Emotion Work Revealed by Job Loss Discourse: Backgrounding-Foregrounding of Feelings, Construction of Normalcy, and (Re)instituting of Traditional Masculinities

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job loss, emotion work, career counseling, family communication, gender, masculinities

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Three emotion work themes were displayed in the discourse of individuals who lost their jobs and of their family members. Foregrounding-backgrounding of emotions indicated not only how some individuals and family members exerted effort to express positive emotions, but also why they would do so (for deep authenticity). In the construction of normalcy, respondents made an effort to portray and enact their lives as similar to the way things were before the job loss. By (re)instituting traditional masculinities, the men who lost their jobs were able to be "real" men in an emasculating situation. Taken together, these findings offer possibilities for further theoretical development and for communication interventions that can be applied by human resource professionals, career and outplacement counselors, family members, friends, and the individuals themselves.

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Journal of Applied Communication Research, v. 31, issue 1, p. 27-57