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This report investigates the shop manners and training offered to the floor sales staff at Next compared to that of those who work in the stock room. I would like to know how each environment affects the workers emotions.

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Introduction

MG2076 Emotional Labour This report investigates the shop manners and training offered to the floor sales staff at Next compared to that of those who work in the stock room. I would like to know how each environment affects the workers emotions. I think it's an important question to ask because the people that work on the shop floor are constantly in contact with customers. It could be said that those that work in the stock room are not part of the stage setting and are more like the stage crew who work behind the scenes. I think it is important then to first address what emotion is. "Emotion theory is centred on the relationship of the person and its environment" (Lazarus, 1991 p40). This has implications on the question that I am posing as the stockroom workers interact in a different environment to their colleagues on the shop floor. There are two fundamental viewpoints to emotion the organismic and interactionalist viewpoint. The organismic model developing from the work of Charles Darwin, William James and early Sigmund Freud, "Defines emotion mainly as a biological process. For Freud emotion affect is libidinal discharge, for Darwin it's instinct and for James it's the perception of a psychological process" (Hochschild, 1983 p205) This leads organismic theorists to believe that there is a basic similarity of emotion across categories of people (Hochschild, 1983). The organismic model brings us to an elicitation-expression model (Hochschild, 1983) Interactionists believe emotion always involves a biological component but adds more points to social factors, which are present before, after and during the experience of emotion. For example why does a customer become violent when refused a refund, what in their cultural environment constitutes their response? If we conceptualise emotion as instinctive we will ignore questions about social entry. (Hochschild, 1983) "Emotions are experienced by individuals and through intention or inadvertent communication may be deduced by others who are observing". ...read more.

Middle

Even though you have to be suspicious of certain customers you must always remember your training and be polite even if you feel that they are up to no good. Training Session 3 (Appendix Stockroom) As you can see none of the training here is connected to personal conduct, it doesn't attempt to tell you how to act where as the shop floor assistants are told to be friendly, sincere, polite, confident and have a smile. They are even told that conversations must be work related. When questioned on the reality of this last statement floor staff said they do have non-work related conversations but they are of a toned down nature to the way they would speak in private. When I asked the stockroom workers about their conversations they said that if they were in a situation to have a conversation it would be more animated then if having it on the shop floor as they are not 'in public'. Training Session 12 (Appendix Till Service) Customer interaction is crucial at the till point. Again the trainee is told how to act, to be sincere and polite. I asked staff how easy it was to do this. A typical scenario: It's a very busy Saturday and all the tills are in operation when greeted by the customer with comments such as "I have been waiting ever such a long time, you know" and the like, it is difficult to be sincere and polite as there is nothing the staff can do to make the queue go any quicker. The staff member surface acts with her painted on smile and polite apologies. In the training suggestions of possible conversation are complimenting customers on their choice of purchase. Till operators said they tended to deep act in this case, only saying it if they meant it. Deep acting is a natural result of working on feeling expression is spontaneous (Hochschild 1983). ...read more.

Conclusion

The female manager was about to give in to the customer when the shop manager, a man, noticed the disturbance and came over to assist his colleague. He refused to give the man a refund. I believe that as a man the shop manager saw the customer as a mere man and stood by the initial reaction of the female manager. The customer more intimidated by the act of the shop manager gave in very quickly and left the shop threatening "I will let head office know about this." The manager was not browbeaten by this comment, as he knew the customer didn't have a leg to stand on. This situation also lends itself to the fact that " a different proportion of the managed heart is enlisted for commercial use." (Hochschild, 1983 p163-164) Women make defensive use of their beauty, charm and relational skills, which due to commercial exploitation can lead them to become estranged from these capacities. For male workers it is more their ability to wield anger and make threats that is used by the company and so this the capacity which they are likely to feel estranged from. (Hochschild 1983) Conclusion Each environment has an impact on the workers emotions. The sales floor is where surface acting takes place throughout most of the working day. The stockroom is a place where deep acting is given more of a chance to occur due to the fact that the company don't suppose emotions upon its workers here. I think the training offered by Next is appropriate as it is what is institutionally expected by society. It is achievable by staff to act this way, as this is what they are getting paid to do. I think it does affect workers emotions being trained how to act because it must be hard to switch off at the end of the day. Eventually it must become instinctive to act in a socially expected way and it must become harder for staff members to express their true emotions when not at work. ...read more.

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