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    Serving the self: authenticity, performance and emotional labour

    Blackwell-Pal, Jaswinder Kaur (2022) Serving the self: authenticity, performance and emotional labour. PhD thesis, Birkbeck, University of London.

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    This thesis builds on Arlie Hochschild’s foundational work on emotional labour by understanding it as work which requires certain traits and characteristics to be performed before an audience. Accordingly, it argues for the contribution that theatre and performance studies can make to analysis of such work. Using primary data gathered through observation of workplaces, interviews with employees and analysis of managerial literature, the thesis examines the theatrical and performative influence on both emotional labour, and its study, in three ways. Firstly, it considers the way in which notions of selfhood and emotional authenticity are being fostered in hospitality and leisure workplaces. Secondly, it examines the forms of management used on emotional labour in these contexts. Finally, it turns to the role of the consumer, or audience, in these commercial performances. Where Hochschild draws on Constantin Stanislavski, specifically in relation to the concepts of deep and surface acting, this research offers both a critique of her theory and an alternative approach to the comparison between professional actors and emotional labourers. It presents ahistorical account of actor training in the Stanislavskian realist tradition, and argues for new ways of thinking about its relationship to ascendent forms of work under neoliberalism. In particular, the research highlights the direction and management of emotional labour via forms of quantification and measurement which are tied to the concept of character. Whilst arguing for the continued centrality of wage labour to our analysis, following a Marxist framework, this research also argues for the extension of the critique of the alienating effects of emotional labour into social relations more broadly. This is addressed via attention to how the disciplinary functions identified in the management of emotional labour become offset onto consumers, whose behaviour is shaped according to the corporate dictates of ‘authenticity’ which increasingly characterise service encounters.


    Item Type: Thesis
    Additional Information: Date of award confirmed as 2022 by registry.
    Copyright Holders: The copyright of this thesis rests with the author, who asserts his/her right to be known as such according to the Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988. No dealing with the thesis contrary to the copyright or moral rights of the author is permitted.
    Depositing User: Acquisitions And Metadata
    Date Deposited: 25 Aug 2022 15:12
    Last Modified: 01 Nov 2023 15:42


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