’Nowhere else sells bliss like this’: Exploring the emotional labour of soldiers at war

Godfrey, Richard and Brewis, Joanna (2018). ’Nowhere else sells bliss like this’: Exploring the emotional labour of soldiers at war. Gender, Work and Organization, 25(6) pp. 653–669.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1111/gwao.12229


Reading secondary data from military memoirs of recent conflicts through the prism of scholarship on emotional labour, this paper discusses feeling rules fostered by the total institution of military service. The military is a significant context for such analysis, given that it socializes its personnel into mastering the practices and skills of lethal violence for combat operations. It is, moreover, a total institution, and the disculturation new recruits must endure creates fertile ground for the inculcation of a specific emotional regime. Further, unlike most other service occupations, the military is both male‐dominated and highly masculine. The paper also makes a case for using memoirs in the study of emotional labour. Being examples of what we call identity writing, they offer different insights to those we might attain through other methods. Indeed, we argue that memoirs provide a fruitful source for future organization studies research into the emotional regime of the military especially. Third, our discussion expands the concept of emotional labour in that the emotional regime the memoirists index: is not undertaken for a specific group of customers; entails a distinctive range of emotions; and involves the conscious cultivation of gendered communities of coping among soldiers.

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