Coping with Emotional Labor: Challenges Faced and Strategies Adopted by Instructors


  • Mangala Subramaniam Purdue University
  • Joy Kadowaki Sociology Graduate Student Purdue University


Race, Class, Ability, Privilege, Oppression, White Supremacy, Education, Sexual Orientation, Gender, Gender Identity, Teaching, Research, Tools, Strategies, Youth, College


We build on the growing body of scholarship on emotional labor that originated from the seminal work of Arlie Hochschild to focus on instructors who teach courses about gender and its intersections with race, class and sexual orientation and their labor to manage and cope with classroom resistance. High emotional demands at work may compel instructors to find emotional labor strategies that are effective for managing their own feelings while enabling them to focus on other dimension of their work.  Analyzing open-ended interviews with women instructors of different racial and ethnic backgrounds provides us insights into the challenges and resistance faced while teaching about gender, race, and class and the strategies instructors deploy to cope with and manage the labor. Much of the resistance encountered was the refusal to acknowledge the power and privilege enjoyed by some groups of people in society. The instructors’ emphasize stress coping mechanisms they are compelled to use to enable them to focus on research and writing. In their effort to cope with resistance and meet their broader goal of enhancing learning, most of our study participants reject the tangible measures of teaching effectiveness and instead assert their commitment to the learning process.

Author Biographies

Mangala Subramaniam, Purdue University

Associate Professor, Department of Sociology

Joy Kadowaki, Sociology Graduate Student Purdue University

Research Interests: Sociology of Law, Work and Occupations, Social Inequalities, Sociology of Gender



How to Cite

Subramaniam, M., & Kadowaki, J. (2014). Coping with Emotional Labor: Challenges Faced and Strategies Adopted by Instructors. Understanding and Dismantling Privilege, 4(2). Retrieved from