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Taking Care of Our OwnWhen Family Caregivers Do Medical Work$
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Sherry N. Mong

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9781501751448

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9781501751448.001.0001

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“You Do What You Gotta Do”

“You Do What You Gotta Do”

(p.92) 5 “You Do What You Gotta Do”
Taking Care of Our Own

Sherry N. Mong

Cornell University Press

This chapter examines the complexity of caregivers' feelings about the labor they perform; it probes their emotions and their identities. How do they frame and make sense of the labor they perform? How are their perspectives tied to their identities? These questions are asked within the framework of prior studies of emotion work and emotional labor and Erickson and Stacey's theory of emotion practice, which advocates considering both macro- and microprocesses, as well as context, in examining the emotional labor of both paid and unpaid workers. Nurses have multifaceted forms of emotional labor and are skilled “emotional jugglers” who are able to adapt to the situation at hand without experiencing negative impacts on their identity. The chapter also take insights from Lopez's organized emotional care, which demonstrates how structural supports have been instrumental in reducing the emotional burdens of paid care workers in institutional settings. The analyses of emotion and identity for caregivers and nurses alike are seen within the context of the mutual labor process that is enacted — a labor process that transfers professional skills from paid to unpaid workers.

Keywords:   caregivers, feelings, emotional labor, theory of emotion practice, organized emotional care, paid care work, unpaid care work

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