Monday, September 07, 2009

Five best: books about working

Matthew Crawford is the author of Shop Class as Soulcraft: An Inquiry Into the Value of Work.

For the Wall Street Journal, he named a five best list of books about working.

One title on his list:
The Managed Heart
by Arlie Russell Hochschild
University of California, 1983

In sociologist Arlie Hochschild's path-breaking study of flight attendants, "The Managed Heart," she described the "commercialization of human feeling," in particular how some workers are expected to internalize the ends of their employers as their own. An old airline-company slogan, "Our smiles are not just painted on," turns out to be more than just an advertising hook. When a company's competitive advantage is tied to the spontaneous warmth of its employees, Hochschild says, the job requires "emotional labor." For example, a flight attendant facing an obnoxious passenger is trained to imagine that the troublemaker has a traumatic past, so that her anger will give way to solicitude. While the assembly-line worker may come to regard his own hand as an alien thing controlled by another, the flight attendant becomes estranged from her own emotions. As members of the boomer generation age and their care is increasingly professionalized, the domain of emotional labor is sure to expand.
Read about another book on Crawford's list.

--Marshal Zeringue