Emotional labour, ordinary affects and the early childhood education and care worker

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This paper discusses society’s lack of recognition of the Early Childhood Education and Care (ECEC) workforce as professionals, and its emotional impact that this deficit has on them. The concerns are that the role of the ECEC worker has been mainly conceptualised as maternal, where emotional labour is taken for granted and needing to be suppressed or harnessed as part of the caring role. This is at odds with successive government policy agenda which has focused on professionalising the workforce. In this paper we engage with qualitative data gathered from twenty-four experienced ECEC workers to explore the impact that ‘affect’ has upon them. In this respect we build on the theorisations of Massumi and Stewart, which connect affect theory with the emotional labour; we argue that affect theory offers different ways to consider how objects, spaces, material and discursive entities and bodies impact ECEC workers emotions and emotional labour.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1177-1190
Number of pages14
JournalGender, Work and Organization
Issue number3
Early online date29 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 8 Jun 2021


  • affect theory
  • ECEC work
  • emotional labor
  • ordinary affects


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