Intimate Interactions: Racework as Emotional Labor

Amy C. Steinbugler

in Beyond Loving

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780199743551
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780199979370 | DOI:
Intimate Interactions: Racework as Emotional Labor

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This chapter turns the lens from public spaces to the inner workings of relationships in order to look more closely at how interracial partners interpret and negotiate racial difference in everyday life. It introduces the concept of racial habitus, developed by Eduardo Bonilla-Silva, to explain how racial differences emerge in routine interactions. It then identifies “emotional labor” as the form of racework that individuals use to manage race and racism. It shows how this type of racework permits interracial partners to negotiate differences in racial habitus. One crucial difference is that White partners have not needed to develop the double-consciousness that characterizes a Black racial habitus. The chapter then discusses the minority of partners whose racework is best characterized as racial silence. In sum, the chapter has two main goals: to make clear the ways in which racial difference infiltrates intimate relationships and to show how interracial partners go about directly and indirectly managing this difference.

Keywords: racework; emotional labor; Eduardo Bonilla-Silva; racial habitus; double-consciousness

Chapter.  12419 words. 

Subjects: Race and Ethnicity

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