On Alienated Emotions1
Emotions provide crucial raw material for the lifelong task of working up one’s inchoate evaluative sensibility into a mature, discerning, and self-consciously affirmed evaluative outlook upon the world. Call this the task of self-elaboration. The aim of this chapter is to cast light on a conflict that can arise between the work of self-elaboration and the sort of ‘emotional labor’ that is increasingly prevalent, and increasingly essential to success, in the service economy. When one engages in this sort of work, one’s display of emotion, and in many cases one’s emotions themselves, are often alienated both in the sense that they express alien interests and in the sense that one has alienated to one’s employer, in exchange for a wage, a measure of control over one’s emotional register. The chapter argues that this sort of commodification of emotional display impedes the lifelong task of self-elaboration
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