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The emotional labour of gaining and maintaining access to the field

Journal article
Authors Stina Bergman Blix
Åsa Wettergren
Published in Qualitative Research
Volume 15
Issue 6
Pages 688–704
ISSN 1468-7941
Publication year 2015
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Pages 688–704
Language en
Links dx.doi.org/10.1177/1468794114561348
Keywords access, elite research, emotive dissonance, emotional labour, judiciary, qualitative methods
Subject categories Sociology, Criminology

Abstract

The role of emotions in qualitative research receives increasing attention. We argue for an active rather than a reactive approach towards emotions to improve the quality of research; emotions are a vital source of information and researchers use emotions strategically. Analysing the emotion work of researchers in the process of gaining, securing and maintaining access to the Swedish judiciary, we propose that the emotion work involved is a type of emotional labour, required by the researcher in order to successfully collect data. The particular case of researching elites is highlighted. Emotional labour is analysed along three dimensions: 1. Strategic emotion work – building trust outwards and self-confidence inwards; 2. Emotional reflexivity – attentiveness to emotional signals monitoring one’s position and actions in the field; and 3. Emotion work to cope with emotive dissonance – inward-directed emotion work to deal with the potentially alienating effects of strategic emotion work.

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