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Work intensification and emotional labour of nursing staff at King Edward VIII Hospital.

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This study investigates Work Intensification and Emotional Labour of nursing staff at King Edward VII Hospital. The study submits that previous studies that have explored the phenomenon of emotional labour tended to be moralistic and have focused much on the unprofessional groups like the petrol attendants, security guards, and domestic workers, with a handful, focused on the professional groups. Against this backdrop, this study extends the discourse of emotional labour and work intensification by drawing insights into the lived experiences of the professional workers, nurses in particular. This is because many people associate nursing as a woman’s profession especially in African societies. These key findings are in reminiscent with literature provided by Boxall and Macky (2009) as well as Chowolhry (2014). The authors maintain that work intensification has made nurses to become alienated and stressed with their work and therefore nurses may find it difficult to recognize and challenge excessive levels of emotional labor that are associated with their work. Grounded on the interpretivist paradigm, this qualitative study conclusively holds that work intensification leads to emotional labour in the nursing profession. The study also provides a fascinating thought which indicates that work can likewise be bracing, fulfilling and fiscally useful. The main argument herein is that emotional labour has an impact on the physical, psychological, as well as stimulating emotions of the human being. On this note, the study engaged with the two elements of emotional labour, namely, surface and deep acting which are the core components of emotional labour. In order to provide a sociological lens to the phenomenon, the study draws insight from Goffman’s (1990) dramaturgical theory. The performativity anchored in this theory is a reflection that nurses at King Edward VII Hospital do not allow them to be genuine but just to appease the patients and the management by suppressing their real emotions.


Masters Degree. University of KwaZulu-Natal, Durban.