Publication Details

Patulny, R. (2012). The need for an emotional work survey. In A. Broom & L. Cheshire (Eds.), Proceedings of 'Emerging and Enduring Inequalities', the Australian Sociological Association Annual Conference (TASA 2012), St Lucia, Queensland, Australia (pp. 1-14). Australia: TASA.

Additional Publication Information

ISBN: 9780646587837, 0646587838


Surveys of emotions offer great potential to understand micro-social dynamics and wellbeing not only within small groups, but within nations as a whole. The most commonly reported emotions in surveys – happiness, satisfaction, loneliness, etc - hint at the social experiences of people from different class, ethnic, marital backgrounds, etc. However, such questions are usually generalised to ‘whole of life’ or domain-specific (eg work, family, etc) assessments. They are unable to capture the micro-social dynamics of interaction, power, and status, and consequently lose much of the social interplay of emotions. Many ‘social’ emotions – guilt, shame, anger, envy – are consequently not captured, nor is the considerable work done in managing emotions in different social situations, and the gender context that surrounds this. This paper identifies several emotions commonly ‘missing’ from social surveys and often subject to considerable emotion work particularly amongst women, including anger (Kemper 1990; Holmes 2004), shame (Kemper 1990; Scheff 1991), and jealousy/envy (Clanton 1996). Building on the innovative work of Kahneman and Krueger’s (2006), it also suggests that the most appropriate method for measuring the common emotions and emotion work undertaken in actual social settings is to run a time-use survey with open-ended questions about emotions. Such a survey would ask respondents to report which emotions they felt in their own words, and whether they felt the need to hide or alter these emotions, for a random selection of time-based episodes about any emotions. Such an ‘audit’ of emotions and emotion work in time-based context would provide valuable data to substantiate many of the theories promulgated by sociologists of emotion, and reveal important gender dimensions to emotions within households and families.

Link to publisher version (URL)

Proceedings TASA 2012