Faculty Publications

Title

'For the betterment of kids who look like me': Professional emotional labour as a racial project

Document Type

Article

Keywords

black-white relations, emotion work, emotional labour, professionalism, Racial inequality, racial project

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Ethnic and Racial Studies

Volume

36

Issue

6

First Page

1070

Last Page

1089

Abstract

Emotional labour results from and contributes to systems of inequality. But research too often ignores the racial form, content, and implications of emotion work. This study uses racial formation theory's concept of 'racial project' to analyse the racial consequences of emotional labour in a workplace where whites prescribed deferential emotional labour and black youth workers internalized it. White administrators tasked black workers with conjuring feelings of 'belonging' among black children and emotional release among elite white volunteers and donors by appropriating professionalism and instituting it as a regulating discourse. When emotional labour created conflicts for black workers, whites policed them into meeting others' needs. This study illustrates how professional emotional labour contributed to racial structuring by aligning workers' interests with the administrators' goals, diffusing their negative emotions, muting their racial critiques and fostering colourblindness. © 2013 Copyright Taylor and Francis Group, LLC.

Original Publication Date

6-1-2013

DOI of published version

10.1080/01419870.2011.644309

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