1. Emotional labor is the effort of maintaining a certain emotion. Not all jobs involve emotional labor; it is mainly important for those who work with people or have creative jobs. For example, Hochschild notices that induced smiles demanded from service personnel are a kind of emotional labor, too.
In the modern world, interaction between persons becomes more frequent than interaction with machines and mechanisms; therefore, emotional labor becomes an important component of the increasing number of jobs. For example, clerks, waiters, secretaries, and nurses need to demonstrate courtesy and friendliness. In case the success of business depends on human feelings, emotional labor is crucial. According to Hochschild’s observations, nearly one-third of all American employees have to produce a considerable amount of emotional labor at work (11). Emotional labor has a gendered character. Women are expected to smile in order to please the customer more than men. For women, almost half of all jobs involve emotional labor.
The most obvious example of such a job is the work of flight attendant. Their smile should radiate “real happiness and calm” to the passengers (Hochschild 5). In the competition for passengers, airlines accepted smiles as a professional code of the flight attendants. For the flight attendants, “the emotional style of offering the service is part of the service itself” (Hochschild 5).
Emotional labor differs from physical and mental labors that demand the effort of muscles and brain. Nevertheless, it is labor. In the spirit of Marxism, Hochschild considers that forced emotion estranges the professionals from their expressions; thus, a smile is no longer an impression of spontaneous warmth but a calculated professional behavior (5). Some flight attendants complained that they could not relax after a day of strained smiles to the passengers (Hochschild 7). Instead, the passengers receive emotional comfort during the flight.
2. Ronai and Ellis focus on the strategies of table dancers. This occupation has been marginalized. However, some researchers consider that strip dancing conforms to the norms of bar subculture (Ronai & Ellis 272). Table dancers participate in emotional labor like other professionals that deal directly with customers and induce emotional response to their actions.
First, dancers interact with the viewers by provoking physical turn-on and mental stimulation. They create a particular mood. However, they need to activate that mood in themselves too. Therefore, dancers induce turn-on in themselves or imitate sexual arousal. It is a commercial necessity because they have to sell their dance to the viewers and succeed if they express “overt sexual mannerism” (Ronai & Ellis 276).
Another aspect of emotional labor is generating the atmosphere of good humor. It is an efficient and safe means to make a favorable impression and relax nervous customers. Curiously, the audience usually perceive the dancer’s jokes as spontaneous. In this case, spontaneous humor and genuine sexuality are as much valued as spontaneous warmth of a flight attendant (Ronai & Ellis 278). Meanwhile, the dancers are estranged from their emotions and feelings they induce because it is the method of earning. As a result, their behavior is well calculated and controlled.
Interaction with the clients involves the ability to keep a conversation. The dancers act friendly, let the clients speak, and make them feel important. Being friendly and demonstrating sincere interest are also a part of emotional labor.
Emotional labor is important for the job of a dancer because the earnings directly depend on how successfully they can perform and evoke feelings in the audience. Moreover, their safety and intensity of the contact depend on their ability to properly control their own emotions and emotions aroused in the customers, which turns table dancing to a proper labor.
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