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Are Some Emotions Marked "Whites Only"? Racialized Feeling Rules in Professional Workplaces

Adia Harvey Wingfield
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/sp.2010.57.2.251 251-268 First published online: 1 May 2010


Much of the research on emotion work in organizations has focused on the ways in which emotional performance reproduces gender inequality. Yet, most of these studies overlook the racial character of professional workplaces and how emotion work is experienced by racial/ethnic minorities. In this article, I examine how the normative feeling rules that guide emotional performance in professional workplaces are racialized rather than neutral or objective criteria. Based on 25 semistructured interviews with black professionals, I contend that feeling rules have different implications for black workers and ultimately reinforce racial difference. This research contributes to the sociological literature on emotion work by further developing the racial components of emotional performance.

  • feeling rules
  • emotion work
  • race
  • black professionals
  • tokenism

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