Call for Papers: ESS Mini-Conference on Emotions and Work

Eastern Sociological Society Annual Conference 2019: Mini-Conference 
Emotions and Work
Boston, MA

This mini-conference aims to bring together scholars working on the emotional landscape of contemporary workplaces and workers. Under neoliberalism, work has become more insecure for workers across the board—even for elite workers who typically had enjoyed far more stable careers. What do these shifts mean for implicit and explicit emotional requirements from workers on the job? Furthermore, how do workers emotionally respond to an uncertain workforce? Emerging research suggests that all workers are now salespeople who must “sell” their personalities, above and beyond their skills and credentials, as they seek to advance in their careers. Emotions such as cheer, warmth, optimism, and passion are key in the workplace, include in decisions about hiring, promotion, and designating value to work.

This mini-conference will focus on how emotions matter in the contemporary workplace and for contemporary experiences of work. We are, broadly, interested in submissions that focus on emotions and work, drawing from any methodology. Below are just a few examples of the kinds of questions that papers in the conference could seek to address:   

  • What is the emotional landscape of contemporary workplaces? 
  • How do emotions shape occupational sorting, starting from the very beginning, at school when gender sorting in particular may encourage some “passions” more than others for boys and girls?
  • What role do emotions play in hiring and promotion within organizations?
  • How are emptions linked to designating value to people’s labor? (I.e., in creative industries, labor of love may be considered its own reward, while in other sectors—such as tech—demonstrations of passion may be rewarded with high compensation.) 
  • How is the embodiment of emotions in the workplace a gendered, racialized, and classed phenomenon? 
  • How do emotions justify precarious working conditions, employment insecurity, and contingent labor?
  • How do emotions influence drive, innovation, motivations, and entrepreneurship? And how might emotions instill a sense of autonomy or independence in workers?

This is just a partial list of the kinds of questions that research on emotions and work could be addressing. We very much look forward to receiving your submissions and seeing the kinds of questions you are asking about this timely topic.

Please email your papers to Megan Tobias Neely ( and Aliya Hamid Rao ( by the ESS deadline of October 31 2018.

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