Emotional labour and occupational wellbeing in political office

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Like many public service workers, politicians must manage the emotions of others as well as themselves in order to facilitate cooperation or goal accomplishment. Coined by Arlie Hochschild, this type of work is known as emotional labour. This article analyses a unique data set on the emotional labour and occupational wellbeing of over 500 elected politicians in the United Kingdom to understand how this important feature of public service plays out in political office. On one hand, all three facets of emotional labour (emotion work, personal efficacy, and false-face acting) are found to be prevalent among elected politicians, with self-reported levels of emotional labour differing among men and women. On the other hand, emotion work and personal efficacy appear to improve job satisfaction and occupational pride among politicians, but false-face acting increases symptoms of occupational burnout. These findings raise important questions about the nature of political institutions and the sustainability of political work.




Weinberg, J. (2021). Emotional labour and occupational wellbeing in political office. British Journal of Politics and International Relations, 23(3), 430–450. https://doi.org/10.1177/1369148120959044

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