In the Danish unemployment benefit system, young unemployed people are encouraged to network to find a job. The formal job search channels fall short in today’s job market, with personality and social skills playing an ever-increasing role. Based on interviews with 39 young people, I investigate what emotional labor is required of young unemployed people when they are encouraged to network. I use Hochschild’s (1979, 1983) terminology on emotion work. To expand my conceptual apparatus in understanding the political and distributed nature of emotions, I supplement concepts from affect theory. In particular, Ahmed (2014) offers an excellent analytical framework for addressing the affective subjectification of young unemployed people when they receive money from the welfare state rather than contributing to it. Young people need to do emotional labor to get rid of the negative affective subjectivation that unemployment often entails in a time when self-sufficiency and self-responsibility are cherished and demands and controls are expanded. The young unemployed need to mobilize sufficient commitment, motivation, and passion and put these affective capacities into play to engage in meaningful networking practices and in that way, increase their likelihood of finding a job. It is not enough to have objective qualifications today – these must also be communicated in an affective language, with a particular intensity and energy. The analysis helps to explore the emotional and affective governance practices and contributes to our understanding of the complex interplay between politics and psychology. A field that Hochschild indeed helped establishing. A field which is becoming even more relevant as the boundaries between the private and the professional increasingly erode.
|Journal||Norsk Sosiologisk Tidsskrift|
|Publication status||Published - 2021|
- Emotional labour
- Young unemployed people
- Affective economy