Authenticity and occupational emotions

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This article seeks to elucidate conflicting evidence on the relation between emotions in a professional context and worker authenticity by focusing on the concept of emotional authenticity. It identifies a paradox of emotional authenticity, which emerges from the existence of theories that occlude the possibility of authentic emotion management in professional roles even if such emotions are often experienced as authentic. It is argued that this paradox emerges from Hochschild’s conceptualizations of authenticity and emotionally involved labor that many researchers still implicitly share. The article suggests that an understanding of authenticity as a regulative ideal of coherence between a person’s various roles and their constitutive commitments allows us to see the possibility of authentic emotion work in a professional role whose constitutive commitments are compatible with the worker’s other salient epistemic and normative commitments, provided that emotions are managed in proper working conditions. Nursing is analysed as a profession that can meet these criteria.


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