Bolton's typology of emotion management at work

In her Emotion Management in the Workplace (2005), Sharon Bolton proposes a distinction between four types of emotion management: pecuniary, prescriptive, presentational, and philanthropic. Parallel though not overlapping with this typology is the distinction between four types of feeling rules: commercial, organisational, professional, and social. While pecuniary emotion management is governed by commercial feeling rules, and prescriptive emotion management associates with organisational and professional feeling rules, both presentational and philanthropic emotion management draw on non-institutional social feeling rules. This distinction between feeling rules is Bolton's primary reason for dividing types of emotion management into two main groups: pecuniary and prescriptive emotion management in accordance with an organisation's feeling rules, on the one hand, and presentational and philanthropic emotion management along with "the implicit traffic rules of social interaction" (ibid., p. 133), on the other hand.

The demands of pecuniary and prescriptive emotion management fall on us as organisational actors with specific roles and obligations. Yet there are significant differences between these two types of emotion management. Pecuniary emotion management according to commercial feeling rules can be most readily equated to emotional labour in Hochschild's sense with profit-seeking, instrumental motivation, cynical performance, externally imposed identity, and alienating consequences for the worker. Prescriptive emotion management according to organisational or professional feeling rules widens the motivational basis of emotion management from instrumental reasons to altruistic and status-related reasons. This difference in motivation allows identification with one's work role and involvement with one's organisation or professional body, which, in turn, favour sincere performance of emotion work. This is the case especially with professional feeling rules that are not primarily imposed by the employer but learned and internalised during a secondary socialisation into the profession. The distinction between pecuniary and prescriptive emotion management is also relevant to the consequences of emotion management. Bolton and Boyd (2003) showed that the negative effects of emotional labour, such as stress, alienation, job dissatisfaction, and health problems, emerge largely from pecuniary emotion management, with material working conditions and lack of work autonomy being other main causes of those effects.

In spite of these differences between pecuniary and prescriptive emotion management, Bolton reserves authenticity to presentational and philanthropic emotion management in accordance with social feeling rules that derive from our basic socialisation. These forms of emotion management aim to offer a sense of stability and ontological security to the participants of interaction. At the workplace, presentational and philanthropic emotion management operate in 'spaces' that employees create in order to escape from organisationally imposed feeling rules. Such 'spaces' are used for resistance and misbehaviour, gift exchange, humour, the creation and maintenance of occupational communities, violations, as well as for the maintenance and creation of identity. Authenticity is associated especially with philanthropic emotion management as a gift, which Bolton repeatedly sets against pecuniary emotion management or commercial feeling rules, and only rarely against prescriptive emotion management or professional feeling rules - for a good reason, I believe.

One of those rare passages where Bolton contrasts philanthropic and prescriptive emotion management is where she laments that the time when nurses, teachers, and social workers "could offer their authentic self to patients, pupils and clients has been restricted" (ibid., p. 159) and fears that if these professionals "were to withdraw their philanthropic emotion management and only perform prescriptive emotion management half-heartedly, then clearly this would be of great cost to the consumer" (ibid., p. 160). This is a curious statement, for it appears to imply that prescriptive emotion management is half-hearted as if by default. However, this assumption conflicts with Bolton's own observation that professionals may identify with their work roles so strongly that they "attain a new dimension to their identity; they give sincere performance and become committed to the feeling rules of a profession" (ibid., p. 101). Of course, individual professionals may follow their professional feeling rules half-heartedly, or fail to follow such rules altogether, but when this happens, "often the system is the villain, rather than the individual professional, as undue pressures prevent the adherence to professional feeling rules", as Bolton (ibid., p. 125) points out. The problem of half-hearted or cynical emotion management in organisations concerns then primarily organisational and commercial feeling rules, not professional feeling rules. So why not then accept professionally managed emotions as authentic?

Bolton seems to think that emotions controlled by professional feeling rules cannot be authentic because these rules restrain rather than support the actor's emotional expression. Thus, she argues that professional feeling rules have a twofold protective function. They act as a shield that protects the worker's self from the emotional demands of the job, and they protect the 'right' image or facade of a professional. Image management may be hard work, but Bolton suggests that professionals can be so attached to the image of the professional and its associated benefits that the effort involved in maintaining the image is hardly experienced as work. Still, sometimes keeping the face becomes a burden. Bolton claims that nurses "cannot truly share their feelings whilst at work as they must always maintain the professional face" (ibid., p. 140). Here again the enactment of professional feeling rules is set against authentic caring as a gift. However, this is an exaggerated dichotomy, for their professional feeling rules do not require nurses to keep a stiff upper lip either. Professional feeling rules of nurses - or other professionals- are not merely, or even primarily, about offering "the detached face of a professional carer" (Bolton, 2000, p. 584). Instead, these rules prescribe an affective, empathic concern for the patient's health and well-being, which manifests itself in medically informed, compassionate emotions (Omdahl & O'Donnell, 1999).

Problems with Bolton's analysis of professional emotion management suggest that her typology of emotion management is not a plausible standard of emotional authenticity. The view of authenticity as a phenomenon that belongs exclusively to the domain of non-institutional social interaction, from which it leaks "into even those performances which adhere completely to organisational prescribed feeling rules" (Bolton, 2005, p. 150) is suspicious as it seems to share Hochschild's misgivings about all institutional forms of emotion management. However, these suspicions are ill-founded, for professionals are very sensitive to the distinction between professionally, organisationally, and commercially motivated display and feeling rules. They willingly commit themselves to the professional feeling rules but protest and violate against the commercial and the organisational feeling rules when such rules are inconsistent with the professional ones (ibid., pp. 128-135). Occupational stories about violations against commercial feeling rules also testify to an acute sensitivity to the distinction between professionally and commercially required emotion management (Ashforth & Humphrey, 1993; Bolton & Boyd, 2003). But how can we accommodate the authenticity of professionally managed emotions?

 
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