Social Functions of Emotion and Talking About Emotion at Work
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Social Functions of Emotion and Talking About Emotion at Work

Edited by Dirk Lindebaum, Deanna Geddes and Peter J. Jordan

What novel theoretical insights can be gleaned by comparing our theoretical understanding of emotion in relation to how we 'talk about’ emotion at work? Drawing from psychological and sociological thinking, leading emotion researchers respond to this question for ten common and powerful emotions at work. The chapters detail various conditions under which our study of emotions and our talk about them can be at odds or reinforce each other in organizations, and how these differences impact subsequent consequences for organizations and their members.
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Chapter 7: Happiness at work: a tension in contemporary history

Peter N. Stearns

Abstract

A growing interest in happiness has been a crucial aspect of modern Western culture since the Enlightenment. Its evolution, alongside the emergence of new labor forms in factories and offices, suggests an obvious, though difficult, relationship and this forms the focus of the present essay on happiness and work in industrial society. Developments in the nineteenth century almost certainly reduced job satisfaction for many workers in contrast to artisanal or even rural experience. At the same time new issues––such as the relationship between what would ultimately be called personality and the work ethic, or the growing importance of measuring work by wages––took shape that have conditioned the interaction between jobs and happiness ever since. Formal interest in workplace happiness increased measurably during the first half of the twentieth century, as experts and management sought to promote greater job stability and productivity while reducing labor unrest. Several conflicting approaches emerged, complicating the assessment of actual results. Job happiness probably lagged behind the surge of interest, though some connections can be explored. Finally, at the outset of the twenty-first century, a new commitment to well-being on the job suggests a new stage in the elaboration of ideas about workplace emotion, inviting another evaluation of the relationship between actual emotional trends.

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