Women Working Emotions - Emotional Labour in Heterosexual Relationships

  • Noémi Shirin Unkel University College Maastricht
  • Helena de Sá Carvalho Leonardo University College Maastricht
Keywords: Emotional labour, women, heterosexual relationships, emotion management


This research explores how young women experience emotional labour in heterosexual relationships. It does so against the background of three main interconnected concepts, namely those of power, gender and emotion. Thereby, subtle ways are uncovered in which women reproduce gender stereotypes in their intimate personal relationships on a daily basis. The results include that, in the private sphere, women still feel accountable for the emotional care work usually associated with the traditional female role of motherhood. Specifically, they seem to engage in a conscious process of internal, as well as, external emotional management. However, the effort undertaken by women to supervise the emotional climate of their relationships, as well as, their own feelings, was also found to be reciprocal in some cases, showing that there are complex ways in which young, modern couples resist gendered power.