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Emotion management, institutional change, and the spatial arrangement of care at a psychiatric residential treatment facility

Plummer, Samantha (2018) Emotion management, institutional change, and the spatial arrangement of care at a psychiatric residential treatment facility. Palgrave Communications, 4 (1). ISSN 2055-1045

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Abstract At Psychiatric Residential Treatment Facilities (PRTF), the neoliberal reorganization of health and social care provision has come with increasing demands for financial efficiency, cost-containment, and evidence-based practices that affect workers’ performance of emotion management and their spatial relationship to the PRTF as a place of identity and connection. In this article, data collected via semi-structured interviews and autoethnographic methods are used to examine how long-term workers at a PRTF were affected by and responded to a merger that generated conflicts between the workers’ and new management’s values, norms of emotional conduct, and spatial understandings of the institution. The standard theories and analyses of emotional burnout in the human services argue that value conflicts between workers and organizations cause the former to withdraw from their clients. In contrast, drawing on Bolton's multidimensional theory of emotion management in the workplace, this paper finds that in the face of value conflicts and increased coerciveness in the workplace, certain dimensions of emotion management—namely workers’ engagement with one another and with the children and adolescents in their care—can become more apparently pleasurable and serve as sites of resistance and compensatory solace. Building on work on the geographies of care that troubles the boundaries between public and private space, this paper finds that long-term workers constructed the pre-merger institution as an “anthropological place” and coped with the new regime’s efforts to commodify it by reaffirming their relationships and memories.


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Item Type: Article
Status: Published
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Plummer, Samantha
Date: 23 January 2018
Date Type: Publication
Journal or Publication Title: Palgrave Communications
Volume: 4
Number: 1
Publisher: Palgrave Macmillan
DOI or Unique Handle: 10.1057/s41599-017-0058-4
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > Sociology
Refereed: Yes
ISSN: 2055-1045
Official URL:
Article Type: Research Article
Date Deposited: 13 May 2020 15:00
Last Modified: 13 May 2020 15:00


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