Emotional labor is a kind of work we often don’t recognize as work: the need to appear friendly, deferential, or attentive at a job. Fast food restaurant Pret a Manger is famous (or infamous) for holding its employees to exacting friendliness standards, and emotional labor’s overall importance is becoming a more and more pressing question. It’s frequently, for example, implicated when talking about the supposed American “crisis of masculinity” and the growth of the service sector: are some men, rarely asked to perform as much emotional labor as women, having difficulty adjusting to the new economy? And how much should companies be able to dictate employees’ facial expressions and demeanor anyways? These are all complicated, highly…

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