The Managed Heart

In the first chapter of “The Managed Heart Commercialization of Human Feeling by Arlie Russell Hochschild, Hoschschild explains that current trends of economic capitalist states are becoming more service based, requiring individuals to become an emotional “instrument of labor”. As more jobs require emotional labor, there becomes a detachment from the inner feelings to present the emotional labor required for a job. This emotional labor is considered “The Managed Heart”. Hoschschild uses the flight attendant as an example of the managed heart since airlines main goal is customer satisfaction, it is a non-elite occupation and women are not a minority so it’s easier to compare the experiences of men and women doing the same work. Hoschschild examines the roles and responsibilities of flight attendants and the emotional services they provide for airlines. As a flight attendant, one must portray the image of the sensitive corporate airline and to provide excellent customer service which calls upon emotional services to get the job done. (Hoschschild , 1983, p3).

Hoschschild explains there are two types of labor, physical labor, the act of using the body to accomplish a task and emotional labor, which “requires one to induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others.” The current trend in the market place is starting to require more “voice to voice or face to face delivery of service”, which means the increase in communication tends to bring in more emotional labor and feelings into job responsibilities. In the case of the flight attendants, he or she are continually communicating with passengers and and are required to present excellent customer service. This communication in customer service includes treating the customer with respect, displaying a smile, and presenting a warmness that directly reflects the company. These tasks require the flight attendant to display emotions that he or she might not feel within, thus causing the flight attendant to become “estranged or alienated from an aspect of self that is used to do work”. In order to meet his or her job requirements, he or she must put on a show, much like an actor playing a specific role in a movie.

The “managed heart” requires individuals to detach from their self to fulfill the requirements of their job. This will have a significant effect as more people are required into emotional labor as machines start to automate physical labor jobs. This trend will benefit two classes of people, women, who tend to specialize in emotional labor and middle and upper classes individuals in society since they tend to do more administrative work which requires more communication. This could be seen as a cause for the increase of women in the workforce. Their emotional services are in higher demand as the need for communication labor rises.

A flight attendant knows that she will have to suppress her emotions and sell her smile in order to succeed. The training process for a flight attendant is very rigorous, and the roles and responsibilities are laid out form the beginning. I believe there is a certain personality a flight attendant must have in order to succeed at the job. This personality benefits from giving positive emotional labor and enjoys being the comforting fight attendant. In this case, the flight attendant isn’t being taken out of her self, but is able to flourish in a job that accentuates her personality. Many people complain about their current job and want to find something better, it is probably because they are being detached from their self by being put into a role that they do not correlate with. The act of giving an emotional service to passengers gives a flight attendant a feeling of happiness in making passengers feel

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