The Managed Heart Book Summary - The Managed Heart Book explained in key points
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The Managed Heart summary

Arlie Russell Hochschild

Commercialization of Human Feeling

3.5 (39 ratings)
12 mins

Brief summary

"The Managed Heart" by Arlie Russell Hochschild is a sociological study that explores the emotional labor involved in jobs where workers must suppress their true feelings and display false ones, often resulting in burnout and alienation.

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    The Managed Heart
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    Emotional labor plays a central role in our personal and professional lives, but we don’t usually talk about it openly.

    From baristas to flight attendants to supermarket cashiers, we expect service with a smile from workers across many industries. But as anyone who’s worked in a customer-facing job knows, faking a friendly attitude all day long is difficult, to say the least. And yet, it’s one of those job requirements that’s so ubiquitous, employers rarely think to name it.

    Sociologists studying the world of work, on the other hand, call this emotional labor. Emotional labor is when we consciously manage our feelings to ensure they’re appropriate for a particular commercial or social setting.

    The work done by flight attendants is a powerful example of emotional labor. During their training, flight attendants are taught to smile “genuinely,” emphasizing that this outward display of a good mood can’t appear forced. Attendants must be warm and cheerful when serving food and drinks to passengers.

    A charming “How are you doing today?” is part of the service, too. Small talk and smiles might seem trivial, but when they aren’t there, we notice. Without the emotional work that flight attendants put in, many passengers would consider their service inadequate.

    Another profession where emotional labor plays a central role is, of course, acting. On stage, an actor demonstrates his talent by creating the illusion of experiencing emotions that aren’t his own, that he has perhaps never even felt.

    However, there’s a crucial difference between the emotional labor of actors and flight attendants: while theater involves emotional labor in the pursuit of art, the flight industry’s emotional labor policies are engineered by corporations that, above all, want to make a profit.

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    What is The Managed Heart about?

    The Managed Heart (1983) is the seminal sociological text that introduced the concept of emotional labor. These blinks reveal how we adjust our emotions to our advantage in social and professional contexts, and shed light on the risks and consequences of this form of self-management.

    The Managed Heart Review

    The Managed Heart (1983) explores the emotional labor involved in performing jobs where workers are required to display specific emotions. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It uncovers the hidden emotional toll that certain jobs can have on individuals, shedding light on an aspect of work rarely discussed.
    • By analyzing various industries and sharing personal stories, the book provides an in-depth understanding of how emotional labor manifests in different contexts.
    • It challenges conventional notions of work and emotions, offering a fresh perspective that will make readers question the emotional demands placed on them in their own careers.

    Best quote from The Managed Heart

    What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and everything nice. What are little boys made of? Snips and snails and puppy dog tails.

    —Arlie Russell Hochschild
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    Who should read The Managed Heart?

    • Readers working customer-facing jobs
    • Students interested in gender issues in the workplace
    • Working mothers frustrated with the expectations they face

    About the Author

    Arlie Russell Hochschild is a Professor Emerita of Sociology at the University of California, Berkeley. A renowned author, Hochschild has written three New York Times Book Review Notable Books of the Year: The Second Shift, The Managed Heart, and The Time Bind. Her latest book is Strangers In Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right.

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    The Managed Heart FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Managed Heart?

    The main message of The Managed Heart is an exploration of emotional labor and its impact on individuals in the workplace.

    How long does it take to read The Managed Heart?

    The reading time for The Managed Heart varies, but it is estimated to take a few hours. The Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Managed Heart a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Managed Heart is worth reading for its insightful analysis of emotional labor and its effect on workers' well-being.

    Who is the author of The Managed Heart?

    The author of The Managed Heart is Arlie Russell Hochschild.

    What to read after The Managed Heart?

    If you're wondering what to read next after The Managed Heart, here are some recommendations we suggest:
    • The Strange Order of Things by Antonio Damasio
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    • Emotional Agility by Susan David
    • Permission to Feel by Marc Brackett
    • Discipline Is Destiny by Ryan Holiday
    • Descartes’ Error by Antonio Damasio
    • How Highly Effective People Speak by Peter Andrei
    • The Mindful Body by Ellen J. Langer
    • Atomic Habits by James Clear
    • The Diary of a CEO by Steven Bartlett