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Sociology 3308: Sociology of Emotions - page 4 / 6





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particular image or point of reference (e.g. an “emotion memory”), or by deliberately visualizing a substantial portion of reality in a different way (e.g. visualizing a belligerent drunk as if a frightened child, someone with a phobia about flying, or someone who had suffered a tragedy). Hochschild argues that in everyday life, we all manage feelings through surface and deep acting. Yet, considering the economic context of emotional labour, not only is the need to apply these methods unequally distributed (e.g. by gender, race and class), the role of the director is more formally taken by institutions. It is thus possible that we can become alienated from our artificially induced feelings (e.g. overcoming the “artificial elation” one may induce on the job; a sense of personal phoniness: ‘Is it me or the company talking?’).

Hochschild also speaks of people using these methods in private settings, where she terms them aspects of “emotion management” rather than emotional labour. For example, the young woman who tries to fight her love for a commitment shy man attempts to emphasize everything negative about him to keep her feelings in check (deep acting), and uses her friends almost like a Greek chorus to reinforce these feelings and prevent herself from getting hurt (surface acting). The same strategy can be applied in reverse, emphasizing everything good about someone to try to convince yourself you love them (deep acting), and acting as if you do to encourage similar responses and convince yourself (surface acting). In short, “what distinguishes theatre from life is not illusion, it is the honour accorded to illusion.”

Emotion Norms:

According to Hochschild, the importance of emotion management lies not in our success at it, "for we often fail miserably," but in the continual homage we pay, through it, to "the social conventions of affective life" (e.g. people often talk as much about their failed efforts to feel as they do about having feelings. Common phrases include ‘psyching oneself up,” “forcing” oneself, “putting a damper on it,” etc.).

Thus, Hochshild turns, finally, to a consideration of what she calls "expression rules" and "feeling rules." Hochschild notes that "we often try to appear amused, pleased, or sad, and in doing so we follow expression rules." We also "try to feel actually amused, pleased, or sad, and in doing so we follow feeling rules, which are rules about what feeling is or isn't appropriate in a given social setting." According to Hochschild, feeling rules are not simple yes-no norms. They are more like "zoning regulations" that demarcate how much of a given feeling, held in a given way, is crazy, unusual, but understandable, normal, inappropriate, or almost inappropriate for a given context. We recognize these by inspecting how we assess our feelings, how other people assess our emotional display, and by sanctions issuing from both. Feeling rules govern how deeply we should feel, and for how long. According to a feeling rule, we can be off or on in our timing, and in the duration, or intensity of our feeling (e.g. the ‘ought’ struggles with the ‘is’ of feeling on one’s wedding day, where one is frazzled but supposed to be happy; feeling nothing, relief, or something amusing at a funeral when one is supposed to feel sad - each of which prompt emotion management techniques). While advantage seeking and pain avoidance are also involved here, both operate within the context of feeling rules.


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