"It's for Us to Change That": Emotional Labor in Researching Adults' Learning: Between Feminist Criticality and Complicity in Temporary, Gendered Employment

Irene Malcolm

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

    2 Citations (Scopus)


    There has been little exploration of emotional labor in researching the learning of adults, and emotional labor on the part of research contractors has scarcely featured in published debates. The article explores the role of emotion in this context from a critical feminist perspective, drawing on life history data from a study of the learning biographies of more than 100 adults across the United Kingdom. The discussion is informed by analyses of data from interviews with Patricia (39) among a cohort of 30 participants who were interviewed as part of this study. The author first considers the ontological position of the article and critical feminist perspectives on women's experiences of work. Second, the author examines the theory of emotional labor and the ongoing challenge of accounting for exploitative power relations in field work. Finally, the author suggests that the nexus of emotional labor and empathy/complicity in research is an area worthy of further investigation.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)252-271
    Number of pages20
    JournalAdult Education Quarterly
    Issue number3
    Publication statusPublished - Aug 2012



    • emotional labor
    • Adult learning
    • Life history
    • Qualitative research
    • contract researchers

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