Qualitative Sociology

, Volume 30, Issue 2, pp 153–169

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

Original Paper

DOI: 10.1007/s11133-006-9056-3

Cite this article as:
Wolkomir, M. & Powers, J. Qual Sociol (2007) 30: 153. doi:10.1007/s11133-006-9056-3


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.


Emotional labor Abortion Authenticity Work Coping strategies 

Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, Inc. 2007

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of SociologyCentenary College of LouisianaShreveportUSA
  2. 2.8155 Southwestern Blvd., #132 DallasDallasUSA

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