"Emotion work" as a participant resource: a feminist analysis of young women's talk-in-interaction

Hannah Frith, Celia Kitzinger

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper explores and develops the concept of 'emotion work' as used by young women talking about sexual negotiation. It suggests that 'emotion work' should be viewed not simply as an analyst resource of use to social scientists, but also as a participant resource used by ordinary social members. Existing research on emotion work generally treats self-report data as offering a 'transparent' window through which the behaviour 'behind the talk' can be (more or less adequately) assessed. This paper proposes instead that self-report data should be considered as talk-in interaction. Using data from our own research on young women's experiences of refusing sex, we show how young women's talk about (what analysts call) 'emotion work' can be analysed as a participant resource through which young women construct consensual versions of men as emotional weaklings, and portray themselves as active agents who are knowledgeable about heterosecual relationships. The implications of this analytic shift are explored in relation to feminist appraoches to sexual coercion, and with reference to qualitative data analysis more generally.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)299-320
Number of pages22
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - May 1998


  • emotion work
  • feminist
  • participant resource
  • qualitative analysis
  • sexual negotiation
  • talk-in-interaction


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