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Losing innocence : finding the line between emotional bonds and boundaries in protective service work

conference contribution
posted on 2005-01-01, 00:00 authored by Charmine Hartel, J Tan
This paper builds on existing literature on the notion of emotional labour by investigating work in a child protective service environment. Notable characteristics of formal organisations, such as child protective services, are that they operate within a legal framework and that workers' professional duties have great influence on clients. This paper examines the intricacies of the worker-client relationship and the emotional dynamics of the service interactions by interviewing a group of workers in a public hospital in Victoria, Australia. This research extricates the complexities in the client-worker relationship by examining a range of work characteristics including their roles as professional caregivers, the emotional bonds and boundaries in the workers-client relationship, the intensity and magnitude of felt and displayed emotions, as well as the self-management of emotions and clients' emotions. This study adds to existing knowledge on the emotional expressions, experiences and regulation of emotions of the professional work lives in a child protective service work environment.
This paper is divided into the following sections. The first section details protective service work within the larger framework of human service work, and how the worker-client interface is different from other front-line service work. This is followed the need to examine the emotional dynamics of work in a child protective service organisation. Next, a study of these emotional dynamics in a child protective service organisation is reported. The paper concludes with a consideration of the wider implications for the sociology of protective service work, and how affective issues differ other service work roles.



European Academy of Management Conference (2005 : Munich, Germany)




Munich, Germany

Place of publication

Munich, Germany

Start date


End date




Publication classification

E1 Full written paper - refereed

Copyright notice

2005, München


F Piller

Title of proceedings

EURAM 2005 : Fulltext Proceedings