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    The ethics of service work in a neoliberal healthcare context: doing embodied and ‘dirty’ emotional labor

    Whiley, Lilith and Grandy, G. (2022) The ethics of service work in a neoliberal healthcare context: doing embodied and ‘dirty’ emotional labor. Qualitative Research in Organizations and Management 17 (1), pp. 136-157. ISSN 1746-5648.

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    We explore how service workers negotiate emotional laboring with ‘dirty’ emotions while trying to meet the demands of neoliberal healthcare. In doing so, we theorize emotional labor in the context of healthcare as a type of embodied and emotional ‘dirty’ work. We apply Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA) to our data collected from National Health Service (NHS) workers in the United Kingdom (UK). Our data show that healthcare service workers absorb, contain, and quarantine emotional ‘dirt’, thereby protecting their organization at a cost to their own well-being. Workers also perform embodied practices to try and absolve themselves of their ‘dirty’ labor. We extend research on emotional ‘dirty’ work and theorize that emotional labor can also be conceptualized as ‘dirty’ work. Further, we show that emotionally laboring with ‘dirty’ emotions is an embodied phenomenon, which involves workers absorbing and containing patients’ emotional ‘dirt’ to protect the institution (at the expense of their well-being).


    Item Type: Article
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): dirty work, emotion work, emotional labor, embodiment, service work, healthcare, interpretative phenomenological analysis
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Business and Law > Birkbeck Business School
    Depositing User: Lilith Whiley
    Date Deposited: 11 Nov 2021 13:14
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 18:13


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