Document Type

Honors Project


I would like to thank my advisor, Erik Larson, for his encouragement, patience, and continued guidance. I am also grateful for the insights of Deborah Smith and Corey Hammers through this process. To my participants, I am deeply touched by your enthusiasm in your work and your assistance in my. Finally to my friends and family: your encouragement means the world to me, thank you!


How does the organization’s social environment affect the emotional labor employees perform? Previous research on emotional labor has focused on the service sector and omitted examples in nonprofit organizations. To address this gap, I conducted interviews with staff members at a community-based, low-cost reproductive health clinic. Its internal work environment values strong co-worker relationships and support in coping with labor. I found three distinct realms of emotional labor: between clients and employees of the organization; amongst the staff of the organization; and between the organization and the surrounding society. Each realm corresponds to distinct challenges that contribute to employees’ experiences with emotional labor. Employees at community-based organizations understand their emotional labor as an extension of their personal values rather than as a way to earn a wage. The results confirm that employees experience emotional labor differently in community-based organizations and expect to be able to cope with this labor through strong co-worker relationships.



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