- The fragility of self-respect: emotional labour of workfare volunteering
- Social Policy and Society
- Volume | Issue number
- 12 | 3
- Pages (from-to)
- Document type
- Faculty of Social and Behavioural Sciences (FMG)
- Amsterdam Institute for Social Science Research (AISSR)
This article contributes to our empirical understanding of self-respect in rising meritocracies by focusing on the experiences of unemployed, low-skilled people recruited as workfare volunteers in the Netherlands. As many theorists have argued, the long-term unemployed struggle to maintain self-esteem. We found that workfare projects that introduce them to voluntary work can help them regain self-respect through four types of emotional labour: feeling respected through their newfound status, enjoying a craft, being able to perform in less stressful working environments, and taking pride in the meaning bestowed by voluntary work. But the emotional labour necessary to experience their situation more positively also increases the risk of experiencing negative emotions, thereby posing new threats to the fragile self-respect of unemployed citizens.
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