Emotion Work and Emotion Space: Using a Spatial Perspective to Explore the Challenging of Masculine Emotion Management Practices

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Abstract

This paper sets out to investigate the possibility that employees may challenge management through their colonization of work space, facilitated by the transportation of ‘private’ behaviours and activities into the ‘public’ world of organization. It does this within the context of a broader project on the management of emotions within a special care baby unit characterized as a high risk, emergency working environment. Focusing on the experience of night nurses and drawing on the concept of differential space the article seeks to demonstrate how the dominant form of emotion work (characterized as masculine) on the unit may be contested. This is done through the creation of the unit at night as a space of empowerment, achieved through the visible enactment of a feminized form of emotion work. In this sense the analysis explores how the performance of feminine emotion work can be understood as acts of spatial resistance to the authority of the masculine emotion regime. In other words night nurses make the special care baby unit into a space which challenges the masculinist emotion management which dominates the unit. It will be suggested that our understanding of the performance of emotion management practices in particular and management practices in general may be limited if space is ignored.

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