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An indivisible union? Assessing the marriage of Hochschild’s emotional labour concept and labour process theory

By Paul A. Brook


Labour process theory (LPT) has progressively but critically adopted Hochschild's emotional labour theory, principally for analysis of service work. However, until recently there has been little detailed assessment from within the LPT tradition of emotional labour's theoretical roots, structure and overall compatibility. This article critically assesses contemporary debates within LPT on the compatibility of Hochschild's theory. It argues that while she makes foundational use of Marx's theory of labour power, she inadequately captures the contradictory nature of employment relations, the social basis of workplace emotions and the incompleteness of management control. This is principally due to her tendency to focus on the harm to individuals of emotional labour via her individualised concepts of 'transmutation of feelings', 'surface acting and deep acting'. For Hochschild's theory to be compatible, it requires a thorough dialectical understanding of workplace emotions and their management as contradictory social phenomena, which workers experience individually and collectively.Peer-reviewedPost-prin

Topics: Hochschild; labour process theory; LPT; Marxism; service work; emotional labour.
Publisher: Inderscience
Year: 2010
DOI identifier: 10.1504/IJMCP.2010.037816
OAI identifier:

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