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Article

Emotion Management and the Professional Culture of Administrative Social Workers in Russia: Common Standards Versus the Moral Mission of Social Care

Journal of Social Policy Studies. 2017. Vol. 15. No. 1. P. 129-142.

In this article, I examine emotion work among administrative social workers in Russia, an activity vital to the on-going emergence of their professional culture. This examination focuses on administrative social workers; a particular group of largely office-bound social workers within the profession whose central job is to help people process the required documents needed to receive social assistance and benefits. Firstly, the article offers an overview of existing research on the sociology of emotions and professions, with a special focus on those studies exploring emotion management. The conclusion emerging from this review is that analysing emotion work in the field of social care can lead to a deeper and more complete understanding of its specific character and the ethical rules operating within it. Secondly, an analysis of administrative social worker interview transcripts was conducted as part of a larger research project on the professional culture of this occupation. This analysis was completed with help of NVivo software and reveals that although interviewees are not only clearly aware of emotion work, they do all the same try to reduce emotional expenditure in their communication with clients and strive to standardise how they work with their emotions. Carrying out emotion work has a key function in supporting professional identity among administrative social workers and furthering the development of a professional culture. On the other hand, the emotional expenditures involved and the challenge of 'making the profession worth it' are alleviated by the sense that one’s work fulfils an important 'moral mission' in providing social care and assistance.