Secondary emotional labor: How female nurses respond to the contradictions of caring

Academic Article


  • Prior research suggests that caring is in tension with a financially incentivized, technologically-driven healthcare system. Nevertheless, employers, the public, and nurses expect nurses to be caring when providing care to patients and families. This article focuses on nurses’ emotional labor strategies when managing emotions related to organizationally imposed interference with caring. We analyzed 27 semi-structured interviews with nurses and found that the unsuccessful performance of emotional labor spills over into the women’s relationships at and outside of work. We apply Di-Cicco-Bloom and DiCicco-Bloom’s concept of secondary emotional labor to examine our findings and how secondary emotional labor further develops the alienation and exploitation concepts of Hochschild’s emotional labor theory. We suggest a structural change in nurses’ job design that remedies contradictory caring expectations and supports their emotional labor to prioritize a climate of caring for patients.
  • Published In

  • Health  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Hogan B; Drentea P