Uncovering Hidden Emotional Work: Professional Practice in Paediatric Post-Mortem

Kate Reed, Julie Ellis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Citations (Scopus)


The concepts of emotional labour and emotion management have been extensively explored across a range of health and social care occupations. Less is known about emotionality in ‘hidden’ and ‘taboo’ realms of health work. Drawing on data from an ethnographic study on fetal and neonatal post-mortem, we explore the ways in which professionals across occupation and status positions both articulate and manage their emotions. Post-mortem involves a range of practices which take place around the edges of life and death, medicine and hospital space. Although often concealed from members of the public (and from some professionals), such practices tend to be highly valued by professionals and parents. Our analysis moves beyond the current sociological focus on occupation, illuminating instead how emotional work is performed across multi-disciplinary teams in this secret context. In doing so we seek to contribute to the conceptual and empirical development of the sociology of emotion work.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-328
Number of pages17
Issue number2
Early online date28 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2020


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