Publication Details

McKenzie, J., Olson, R. E., Patulny, R., Bellocchi, A. & Mills, K. A. (2019). Emotion management and solidarity in the workplace: A call for a new research agenda. The Sociological Review, 67 (3), 672-688.


Research focusing on the management of emotion features prominently in studies of employee attrition, gender inequality and workplace satisfaction, but rarely in research on worker solidarity. Against a backdrop of increasing individualisation within late modern society, research about workplace management of emotion has become bifurcated along sociological or organisational psychology lines. Within the sociology literature, management of emotion is theorised as a commercialised, relational and (often) alienating experience. Within organisational psychology literature and research, the emphasis is on harnessing individual traits and skills (e.g. emotional intelligence) to regulate emotions for increased productivity and employee retention. In this article, the authors call for a new research agenda that prioritises the examination of solidarity between workers alongside the analysis of emotion management. This call is based in a critical reading of the sociological and organisational psychology scholarship addressing the management of emotions. Through the example of teaching work, the authors provide a critique of scholarship on workplace strategies that promote highly individualised understandings of managing emotions through resilience training and other simplified techniques. They argue that workplaces should recognise the dangers of uncritically adopting individualised strategies for managing emotions, and propose a research agenda that seeks to understand how emotion management can affect worker solidarity.



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