Graduation Year

2008

Document Type

Thesis

Degree

M.A.

Degree Granting Department

Sociology

Major Professor

Margaret Kusenbach, Ph.D.

Keywords

Ethnography, Interviews, Challenges, Strategies, Work

Abstract

The question that I investigate here is what emotion work is performed by child protective investigators in order to be successful at their work, and how do they manage these emotional challenges within a community of their peers? Many different workers, from airline employees (Hochschild, 1983) to mortuary science students (Cahill, 1999) to 911 operators (Shuler & Sypher, 2000), have been studied to examine strategies and effects of emotion management. Yet scholars do not agree on whether emotion management at work is positive or negative. For my research, I conducted interviews with ten investigators and observed a night unit of child protective investigators in a Central Florida Sheriff's Office. I observed three different types of strategies, which I discuss in detail: office based strategies, field based strategies, and personal strategies. Office based strategies include group humor, practical support and sharing experiences. Field based strategies include calming down the parent, enlisting the client, and distancing humor. Personal strategies include accentuating importance and blaming the parent. In the conclusion I summarize my research and discuss the finding that both novice and veteran child protective investigators use these strategies. I end with policy recommendations and I stress the importance of building a supportive professional community through further training.

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