Sex represents a fundamental way married people can show they love and care for one another


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Sex represents a fundamental way married people can show they love and care for one another

Chapkis, however, in her study of sex workers in the United States and the Netherlands, argued that sex does not exist “independent of its social expression and management” (Chapkis, p

In her influential treatise on emotion management, Hochschild (1983) conceptualized emotional labor as labor that “requires one to induce or suppress feeling in order to sustain the outward countenance that produces the proper state of mind in others” (p. 7). Hochschild used the term emotion work to refer to emotion management done in a private context, as opposed to that done for a wage. For clarity, we adopt the term emotion work throughout this article. Emotion work is a complex construct that involves the active management of one’s own emotions and efforts to manage the emotions of others. People ple, work on their own emotions in an attempt to bring their feelings in line with how they think they should be feeling according to cultural norms and beliefs-what Hochschild termed “feeling rules” (p. 56)-and may feel confused and guilty when their feelings are not in line with the normative expectations. Feeling rules also lay the groundwork for individuals’ social interactions: They “guide emotion work by establishing the sense of entitlement or obligation that governs emotional exchanges” (Hochschild, p. 56). Hochschild suggested, for example, that, because of economic dependence and gendered expectations, women may be more likely than men to “cultivate the habit of suppressing their own feelings” (p. 57), especially when doing so “affirms, enhances, and celebrates the well-being and status of others” (p. 165, emphasis in original).

Importantly, then, in addition to doing emotion work for one’s self (e.g., to bring feelings in line with how one thinks one should be feeling), emotion work may be undertaken for the benefit of others. An individual may manipulate his or her emotions to try to change how someone else is feeling or to show support and affection for another (Erickson, 2005; Hochschild, 1983, 1997). Individuals may be aware that their emotional display does not conform with what they are truly feeling-what Hochschild (1983) called “surface acting” (p. 35)-or they may convince themselves that their feelings are genuine and spontaneous, rather than manufactured: termed “deep acting” (p. 35).

Thus, it may become a powerful symbol of the relationship

Since the publication of Hochschild’s work on emotion management in public and private life, studies have examined emotional labor in a number of occupations, including prostitution (e.g., Chapkis, 1997), but have largely overlooked the more private institution of ily as a site of emotion work (see Duncombe & ; Hochschild, 1997, for exceptions). Yet Hochschild (1983) stressed that, because of the immense emotional obligations of private life, emotion work is likely to be strongest in the context of close personal bonds.

Building on her concept of the second shift, the care of children and home that follows wives’ paid employment (Hochschild & Machung, 2003), Hochschild’s (1997) study of working families identified a third shift that working parents perform comprised of “the emotional work necessary to repair the damage caused by time pressures at home” (p. 51). Similarly, in her study of employed ) found that wives report performing substantial amounts of emotion work within the family. Moreover, in line with Hochschild’s concept of feeling rules, the wives in Erickson’s study expressed a belief that women are held accountable for the performance of emotion work in ways that men are not. Erickson concluded that family researchers must reconceptualize emotion work “as an important aspect of the work that takes place in families” (p. 349, emphasis in original).

We extend Erickson’s argument by examining the role of emotion work in married people’s intimate lives. To be sure, there are other ways to show affection, but sex is culturally vaunted as a signifier of love and marital bliss. But as well, sex is often understood as a physical act that resides outside the purview of society (Chapkis, 1997). As such, sex is imbued with a sacred quality and may be viewed as a spontaneous, authentic reflection of a person’s true feelings for another. 75). It may be easy to see how this is so in regard to a monetary enterprise like prostitution, but what about in marriage, where sexual expression is deemed a signifier of mutual love and affection?