Discourses of emotionality and rationality in the financial services industry

This dissertation explores the practices of emotion work in the financial services industry as they are constructed in interviews with people employed in different financial organizations. The issues of emotion work in organizations are generally investigated in terms of emotion management, impression formation and negotiation or accomplishment. The previous research has also uncovered that emotions and market moods influence how people make financial decisions under conditions of fundamental uncertainty. In this study, I adopt a critical-interpretive approach and seek to develop an in-depth understanding of organizational practices through which people employed in the financial services industry maintain emotion-reason dualism. This approach allows us to shift the analysis from categorizing what counts as rational versus emotional decision making to examining discourses that constitute claims of preferred rationality and devalue the significance of emotions at work. The transcripts of 23 interviews with 17 people employed in different financial organizations constituted the data for this study. The analysis of the interview discourse shows that emotions are conceptualized as an antipode to rationality, threat, weakness and as a source of stress. On one hand, the strategies of internal emotional control reflect the participants’ desire to take control over their feelings in order to fit into the discourse of preferred rationality. The concept of emotion also shapes the tactics of impression management. The interviewees were consciously aware of which feelings they wanted to display, and how to use emotions in order to build and maintain networks of relationships with different market participants. On the other hand, the simultaneous co-existence of negation and practical utility of feelings at work in the participants’ narratives suggests that meanings associated with preferred rationality and marginalized emotionality fluctuate along the following dimensions: absence-presence, chaos-order/discipline, weakness-power and subjectivity-objectivity. These findings open up a new space to explore the concepts of emotionality and rationality as socially constructed phenomena that are reproduced in the practices of emotion work. The focus on discourse not only offers a communication centered model of rationalized emotion, but also unveils social aspects of financial management.
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Metaphors We Live By.George Lakoff - 1980 - University of Chicago Press.
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