Are we happy now? Exploring emotional dissonance in the fashion retail industry

Tupou, Janet
Harrison, Jacqueline
Nelson, Frances
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Master of Communication Studies
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Auckland University of Technology

The rapid rise of the service sector, and in particular the fashion retail industry has made the study of emotional work increasingly important within the area of emotions research. Specifically, emotional dissonance mediates the effect of emotional labour on levels of emotional tolerance. Emotional dissonance has been variously described and measured as an antecedent or as a consequence of the performance of emotional labour, as well as an inherent component of emotional labour. Recent conceptualisations of emotional dissonance did not accommodate that there was a range of emotions in its capacity to explain variances in the why service workers feel this way.

Concepts from emotional dissonance theory support this conceptualisation and were used to investigate whether there was a range of emotional dissonance among fashion retail employees, and to explore the key determinants behind this range. Emotional dissonance was found to exacerbate the level of emotional tolerance at high levels of organisational demands, indicating that the range in emotional dissonance is narrowed down to the work and life experience that each individual has. Future theorising about emotional dissonance needs to account for emotional demands and life experience in particular. Potential ways to alleviate emotional tolerance due to emotional dissonance is to provide more staff training and education when people are recruited into this industry, with focus on more personalised methods of delivering this information. The results demonstrated a significant range in emotional dissonance based on the personal levels of engagement people hold with the organisation, customers, and how they handle emotional encounters, supporting the use of a more theoretically and methodologically consistent measure of emotional dissonance.

Communication , Emotions
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