Hard labour at 35,000 feet: a reconsideration of emotional demands in airline service work

Conor Sheehan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Abstract

This study offers a contemporary perspective on the factors affecting the emotional self-management of airline service agents within an increasingly challenging work environment. The methodological approach combined a review of the contemporary literature on ‘emotion' work with exploratory primary research involving longitudinal focus groups and ‘life history' interviews (Ladkin 2004) with purposively selected respondents. The findings suggested that intensifying job demands and deteriorating working conditions continue to increase the alienating psychological costs of performing emotional labour for air cabin crew. These costs appear greater where ‘emotional reciprocity' is absent and emotional dissonance is evident. Some crew, however, continue to make emotional effort autonomously and spontaneously, and these incidences appear linked to personality trait characteristics and positive service orientation. This work offers a rounded contextualization of respondents' life experiences with their emotional self-management challenges at work. Future research could further explore the ‘reciprocity dynamic' as an enabler of service agents' emotional self-management. Keywords cabin crew emotion effort emotional labour emotional self-management emotional reciprocity occupational health
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)99-116
Number of pages18
JournalHospitality and Society
Volume2
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Aug 2012

Keywords

  • cabin crew
  • emotion effort
  • emotional labour
  • emotional reciprocity
  • emotional self-management
  • occupational health

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