Emotional Labor: Concept and Practical Categorizations in Light of COVID Critical Care Nursing

Robert McMurray*, Nicki Credland, Martyn Griffin, Peter Hamilton, Oonagh Harness, Kimberly Jamie

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review


This chapter considers the changing nature and recognition of emotional labor as a category of work. Over 40 years of scholarship have tracked and conceptualized emotion at work; marking those features that link or delineate one occupation from another according to task, performance and context. Utilizing research with Critical Care Nurses in the UK, this chapter illuminates the changing face of emotional labor. We show how and why emotional labor has come to be recognized, the different forms that it takes, its relation to reason and its impact on workers. We pay particular attention to the ways in which emotional labor is altered by contextual factors such as the site of enactment, temporality and embodied verses virtual encounters. In terms of its affects, we consider the ways in which emotional labor can act as a source of professional pride and occupational virtue, while also carrying the threat of dissonance, burnout and alienation. These affects draw attention to the obligations that might attend such categories of work. We conclude by noting that responsibilities for these affects are likely diffused, touching upon individuals, educators, occupational bodies and, perhaps most importantly, the managers, leaders and systems that constitute employers.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShifting Categories of Work
Subtitle of host publicationUnsettling the Ways We Think about Jobs, Labor, and Activities
EditorsLisa Herzog, Bénédicte Zimmermann
Place of PublicationNew York, NY, United States
PublisherTaylor & Francis
Number of pages14
ISBN (Electronic)9781003341321
ISBN (Print)9781032376622, 9781032376738
Publication statusPublished - 30 Dec 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'Emotional Labor: Concept and Practical Categorizations in Light of COVID Critical Care Nursing'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this