9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN11 Sociology of Emotions

2009-09-05 11:00:00 2009-09-05 12:30:00 Saturday, 5 September 11:00 - 12:30 Work Organisations & Emotions I Building II, C6.06

Gendered agency and emotions in the field of care work


In the past decade, care service organisations have faced demands for intensification of work in Finland as in many other OECD countries. Meanwhile, Finnish Working Life Barometers have reported that both physical and mental strain have increased among social and health care personnel, but with significant gender differences. Our presentation discusses caring as gendered, habitual and emotional work, and as a lived social relationship that produces different states of autonomy and dependency for men and women. We analyze different emotional aspects of agency, such as sense of responsibility, caring, and endurance both as personal choises, and as obligations and a way of being in the world. Discursive practices also mold the emotions, habits, practices and lived relationships of caring. In their part, these practices can produce, perpetuate or question the gendered presumptions and expectations of caring. Our aim is to find such a dialogue between individual experiences and structural questions that would enable recognition of the protective frames and harmful practices of care work. Finally, we present an interpretation on how intertwining phenomenological and constructionist perspectives can help to analyse care workers gendered habits, emotions and agencies. In our analysis, we refer to works by Pierre Bourdieu and Lois McNay. Our data consists of interviews from Finnish social and health care workers.