, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 153-169
Date: 25 Jan 2007

Helping Women and Protecting the Self: The Challenge of Emotional Labor in an Abortion Clinic

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One of the central problems in the performance of emotional labor at work revolves around how workers balance the needs of the job with those of the self. Drawing on data collected through participant observation and from in-depth, loosely structured interviews with nine clinic employees, this study analyzes how one group of abortion clinic workers negotiated the difficulties associated with emotional labor in ways that allowed them to achieve this balance. More specifically, we examine the interactive processes by which workers categorized patients into distinct types and developed specific strategies, along a continuum from investment to detachment, that enabled them to cope effectively with each type of patient. The implications of these strategies for understanding the connections between self, emotion, and authenticity are also discussed.