Locking up emotion: Moving beyond dissonance for understanding emotion labor discomfort

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

129 Scopus citations


Using qualitative data gathered among correctional officers and a post-structuralist theoretical lens, this study suggests that emotion labor - the instrumental use and suppression of emotion - is more difficult when societal discourses and organizational processes limit employees ability to maintain preferred understandings of identity. The paper provides rich description of the complex web of emotion norms faced by correctional officers and then makes the case that identity, power, hidden transcripts, role distancing behaviors, strategic interaction, and organizational identification affect the ease of emotion work. The analysis moves beyond extant research's focus on emotive dissonance, or a clash between "true feeling and "false emotional display, to highlight the roles of macro discourses and everyday organizational practices in understanding the discomfort of emotion labor.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)261-283
Number of pages23
JournalCommunication Monographs
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2005


  • Correctional Officers
  • Emotion Labor
  • Identity
  • Qualitative Methods

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Communication
  • Language and Linguistics


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