Emotional Labour and Gender in the Hospitality Industry
The idea that there is an ‘emotional’ aspect to work seems to have only gained academic credence in recent years. Hochschild (1983) originally introduced the concept of emotional labour in her study of flight attendants and bill collectors. Since then various researchers have subsequently expanded the topic to various different types of workers including teachers (Blackmore 1996), nurses (James 1992; O'Brien 1994), lawyers (Pierce 1996), police (Stenross & Kelinman 1989) and caterers (Phornprapha & Guerrier 1997). Emotional labour could be seen as the management or display of appropriate emotions while working, requiring ‘one to induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others.’ (Hochschild 1983:7).
A medium sized chain of English pubs has agreed to participate in the study and will be referred to as the ‘Coaching Inn Company’ The company has grown rapidly, and developed a portfolio of approximately 170 individual units widely spread around England. Most of these outlets offer accommodation and food, often with a relatively low reliance on wet (alcohol) sales, reflecting the apparent trends of the pub-going market towards other revenue generators such as food and accommodation (Williams 1996). The company has a relatively ‘soft’ type of branding, with a number of individual outlets of differing character, each supporting a wide customer base. In the past it had been the policy of head office to give unit managers quite a free hand in the running of their property. However, there has been an increasing level of standardisation in some areas (with more standardised wine lists, menus, and accommodation offers, such as weekend breaks), and a central reservations system was increasingly used for accommodation. This approach to branding, with the unit distinctiveness being valued by head office and seen as a marketing opportunity, provided an early hint about the organisation’s likely approach to emotional labour.
The project aims to explore the nature of emotional labour in service interaction in United Kingdom public houses, and explore the extent to which it is affected by the gender of individual staff members.
Key research objectives
1. To identify the impacts caused by emotional labour among employees involved in pub service. 2. To discover and evaluate coping strategies utilised by service staff engaged in the performance of emotional labour in relation to those suggested by employers, trainers and in the literature. 3. To recommend measures that could be adopted by organisations and individuals to improve employees’ experience of emotional labour to the benefit of employers, employees and customers.
Overview of the Literature
There are various different types of emotional labour including ‘personalizing an impersonal relation’ (Hochschild 1983:109), refraining from reacting to abusive behaviour, and maintaining a perpetual, sincere smile’ (Macdonald & Sirianni 1996:9). Hochschild (1983) introduced the term ‘feeling rules’ to explain emotional norms, although if Scherer’s (1996) definition of emotion, including not only feeling but also neurophysiological responses and motor expression, is to be adopted, the implied dominance of ‘feeling’ should be treated cautiously. Ashforth and Humphrey (1993:89) approach this issue by suggesting that ‘display rules’ is a more appropriate term, as emotional labour appears to be primarily concerned with ‘publicly expressed’ emotions. Both of these concepts appear to have value, although neither, taken individually, satisfactorily includes all the elements of emotion and emotional labour, and a combination of both seems more appropriate. Display rules may seem more useful in the study of the subject, especially...