An Actor Manages: On Acting and Immaterial Labour

“In 1983, the sociologist Arlie Russell Hochschild published her study of what she called ‘emotional labour’ among flight attendants, in a book called The Managed Heart. Hochschild was the first to pay close critical attention to this dimension of modern work – although the gurus of organisational management had been well aware of the necessity of managing those pesky feelings for much longer. Hochschild draws on the theories of the Russian theatre director and acting teacher Konstantin Stanislavsky to analyse and illustrate emotional labour. In particular, she notes that flight attendants practice something akin to Stanislavky’s theory of emotional memory, in which the actor draws upon previous experiences in order to produce or conjure an appropriate emotion in the moment of performance.”

Read more on the New Left Project website.

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