Emotional Labour of the Polish Social Workers: The Study in Sociology of Emotions
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The Maria Grzegorzewska University in Warsaw
Publication date: 2017-09-14
Polish Sociological Review 2017;199(3):351-366
The article presents the results of a study conducted among a group of 55 highly experienced Polish social workers on the management of their emotions in contacts with clients. The research was inspired mainly by Arlie Hochschild’s concept of emotional labour. Using a qualitative approach allowed us to incorporate a wider range of the spontaneity and reflexivity expressed by the subjects of the study. The paper helps illustrate that, similarly to other helping professions, social workers deploy significant emotional labour and use a range of emotional strategies to affect their clients’ actions or behaviour. The effectiveness of such labour depends on experience, individual characteristics and the formal and informal support they have access to. We conclude that with experience such workers not only control their emotions better, but first and foremost become more effective in using their emotions in such a way as to encourage or discourage certain actions and behaviours among their clients. The findings indicate that more attention should be placed on the role of emotions and emotional labour used by social workers in their daily practice. Incorporation of elements of the sociology of emotions might be particularly useful in this regard.
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