It should certainly be acknowledged that emotional labour exists, and some positions are inherently dependent on effectively managing emotions, caring for customers, or handling emotionally tense situations. “Emotions are often regarded by management as something to be managed, manipulated, and controlled and as forces creating unwanted resistance to change as well as promoting productivity” (Bierema, 2008, p.
56). However, it could be argued that employees should have the right to retain some degree of “emotional privacy”, or at the very least the emotional labour should be fairly compensated, since in many positions, the emotional element of the position (while challenging, even straining for the individual) is frequently not compensated adequately. The expectations on the individual positions are to some degree also created and reinforced by the society itself, as well as by the cultural expectations. “Opengart (2003) interviewed women managers and concluded that expectations for emotional expression are gendered, and the nature of patriarchy may require women to engage in more emotion work since women are expected to emulate masculine traits, and the social structure is replicated through emotional expression” as cited in (Bierema, 2008, p.
59). This idea can be also transformed further to the expectation on women to take the maternity leave and to take care of children, as well as similar preconceived ideas, to which even the employers are not resistant. Employees are very clearly exploiting emotional labour, as it has become an expectation, in some industries more so than others. “Service workers are often instructed that the customer is always right and are forced to accommodate rudeness, harassment, and sometimes sexual advances” (Price, 2008) cited in (Bierema, 2008, p. 59). Employees are simply expected to “handle it”.
The vast majority of the research tends to be focused around gendered work, however there are also racial and social group (wealth) segmentations that need to be examined in greater depth. AgainstSome may argue that the emotional element of the job was already acknowledged and the individual (whatever their background may be) has accepted such conditions by applying for such job. “At the level of the individual organization, work is itself gendered, racialized and classed. As such, there are important unpaid aspects of work that demand identity-based performance that are linked to race, gender and class hierarchies” (Chong, 2009, p.
178). To expect that each job will be comparable in terms of salary and required work is unrealistic. The diversity is simply too great.
Secondly, employers specifically use this to their own advantage. “Emotion can be manipulated to preserve power relations, and women tend to be segregated in jobs that require higher degrees of emotion work, particularly in the service industry” (Bierema, 2008, p. 59). If there are clear benefits for the employers, there will be no desire to stop the practice. Finally, when individual identities are isolated, each employee has the individual bargaining power to select the job that is suitable specifically for that employee based on their preferred characteristics, and the employer should not play the role of the government or a counsellor in this relationship.