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The Socialization of Emotion: Learning Emotion Management at the Fire Station

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In a variety of fields, particularly human service occupations, the management of emotion is a precondition of employee and client well being. Based on qualitative data from participant observation and interviews, this study examines how firefighters are socialized to manage feelings and emotional displays. It concludes that firefighters recognized a need to manage their own emotions and those of their clients in order to deliver adequate service. Veteran firefighters facilitated the use of emotion labor techniques among newcomers by considering the emotion management knowledge and capabilities of job candidates during employee selection processes, providing habituated emotional events, and reinforcing customer service expectations. Newcomers actively participated in their own socialization to local emotion expectations through observational information seeking, retrospective surveillance, and performance of a normative newcomer role demeanor. The article concludes by offering practical and theoretical implications.

Keywords: Emergency Response Personnel; Emotion Labor; Emotion Management; Human Services; Proactivity; Socialization

Document Type: Research Article


Publication date: February 1, 2005

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