The International Sociological Association have accepted my abstract to speak in Vienna this July. Yay! I won’t be wearing a dress made from curtains but this is what the presentation will be on, perhaps I’ll see you there.
Photo ‘Vienna’ by Osamu Kaneko (
A Managed Heart in relation to storytelling: how education policy shapes young people’s perceptions of emotion.
Literature searches indicate that Hochschild’s theories of emotion have not been linked to oral storytelling in an educational setting. In A Managed Heart Hochschild researched how flight attendants at Delta Airlines managed emotion. Hochschild proposed that people were trained to manage emotion in the workplace. This paper explores Hochschild’s theories in the context of educational policy and oral storytelling.

A storytelling space was created in three schools in the UK, Warwickshire, in 2013. Analysis involved NVivo coding of storytelling and focus group sessions one hour long, over five subsequent weeks, with young people from 12-14 years. In total, there were six groups of four children, of mixed ethnicity, ability, and socio-economic background. The students’ conversations were recorded and transcribed for empirical analysis.

The findings suggest that English literature guidelines, set by the Department for Education, influenced the students’ interpretations of emotion. There were significant similarities between educational guidelines and the way students discussed oral storytelling. For instance, the students connected character motivation to emotion reflective of an educational approach (a standardised way to interpret classroom texts such as Romeo and Juliet). The students identified a character’s emotional ‘motivation’ and linked this to ‘actions or events’ in a causative way. Through Hochschild’s work parallels can be drawn between ‘how society uses feeling’ (2003, 17) and how individuals might be educated to use feeling through Governmental policies like the National Curriculum.

The analysis indicates that oral storytelling is a useful method for exploring the theories of Hochschild in a social context. If education influences the students’ analysis of texts, and the analysis of oral storytelling, similar aspects of interpreting behaviour and emotions might arise in other situations in the students’ lives. In this way education might have structural influence over students’ emotional connections, and potentially, the negotiation of social relationships with others.

Emma Parfitt

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