Emotional Labor In The Happiest Place On Earth

BPS Occupational Digest discusses the model pioneered by Disney of what is termed “emotional labor” — the mandatory extreme cheeriness and masterful mood control which has become a widespread part of service industry work:

Walt himself, having observed frowns and negativity on tours of the grounds, insisted on Disney University, a mandatory training process for every employee, that more than anything else is an extended emotion regulation regime…trainees are taken through methods of managing facial and voice cues to maintain a happy, relaxed, and accessible approach. This is effectively a masterclass in surface acting.

However, research suggests that Disney employees actively involved in surface acting are more likely to experience emotional exhaustion. This accords with broader evidence that surface acting is hard work. Other research indicates that buttoning back anger is the hardest thing to do for Disney employees, and having to keep doing so is a major driver of emotional exhaustion.

These things are far from Disney-specific. These principles ‘have come to govern the rest of the customer service world’ to push ‘the frontier of Disney-like happiness across the world’…which may delight or horrify you.

, , , , ,

  • Andrew

    If this was the only kind of work I could get, I’d end up starving to death in an alley somewhere.

  • Andrew

    If this was the only kind of work I could get, I’d end up starving to death in an alley somewhere.

    • Liam_McGonagle

      That describes every job I’ve ever had.  Even the most technically complicated job eventually becomes reduced to sycophancy for hire in a culture pervaded by capitalistic fantasies. 

      If you so abandon your reason as to truly believe that it’s possible to perpetually return increasing efficiencies despite the simple fact that technology has already lapped human attention bandwidth several thousand times over, then the only real criterion left for evaluating work is how much it strokes the decision maker’s ego–not the degree to which it conforms to the ostensible mandate.

      Corporate offices are full of people incrementally making their own and their neighbors’ lives steadily uglier to please *ssholes who would sell their workers’ hides to make soap if they could do it at a large enough margin.

      • Anarchy Pony

        So….. fight the power?

      • Anarchy Pony

        So….. fight the power?

      • Pogo

         Wow, You are using big words. Want to be my uncle?

  • http://www.facebook.com/chinagreenelvis Eric Vinyard

    You go through the same shit as a restaurant server, only then it’s self-imposed because you know it’s the only way you can make any real money. And yes, at the end of the day, it is emotionally draining.

  • Infvocuernos

    Oh!  Disney should use those animitronic tails that monitor your emotions to keep track of their employees’ moods!  That would probably completely break any individual will.  

  • Infvocuernos

    Oh!  Disney should use those animitronic tails that monitor your emotions to keep track of their employees’ moods!  That would probably completely break any individual will.  

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    Ya gotta be Goofy to work for Disney
    and Dumbo to work for anyone else at a day job.

     

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    Ya gotta be Goofy to work for Disney
    and Dumbo to work for anyone else at a day job.

     

  • alizardx

    Disneyland once ran into labor trouble over mandatory company-supplied underwear … “undergarments that were stained or smelly. Steverson said there have been three cases of costumed workers at the Magic Kingdom getting pubic lice or scabies…” http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jun/08/business/fi-7876

  • alizardx

    Disneyland once ran into labor trouble over mandatory company-supplied underwear … “undergarments that were stained or smelly. Steverson said there have been three cases of costumed workers at the Magic Kingdom getting pubic lice or scabies…” http://articles.latimes.com/2001/jun/08/business/fi-7876

  • Timmy

    So thats why I was fondled by Goofy when I was 6 yrs. old!

  • Timmy

    So thats why I was fondled by Goofy when I was 6 yrs. old!