Hard labour at 35,000 feet: A reconsideration of emotional demands in airline service work
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.
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Document Type: Research Article
Affiliations: University of Brighton
Publication date: 2012-08-08
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