Let's talk about our feelings: Emotional labour of community practice in times of pandemic

Guy Feldman*, Yael Itzhaki-Braun, Ruth Frankenburg, Gal Friedman-Hauser

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


From the earliest days of the Covid-19 pandemic, which disproportionately affected marginalised communities around the world, community practice had assumed a critical role on the front lines of the social services' response to the pandemic. While scholars have devoted growing attention to community practice in normal and crisis times, little is known about the emotions of community practitioners and how they deal with them in order to do their job well. Drawing on Hochschild's concept of ‘emotional labour,’ this study examines how community social workers confronted the emotions they felt during the Covid-19 pandemic so as to meet the requirements of their job. We address this question by drawing on in-depth interviews with 30 community social workers in the public social services in Israel. Our research shows that community social workers experienced a wide range of interrelated negative emotions, including helplessness, frustration, disappointment, and anger. In response, workers developed four distinct coping mechanisms: emotional distancing; sharing of emotions; self-soothing; and politization. Building on Foucault's notion of ‘technologies of the self,’ our analysis reveals that Covid-19 produced what we call ‘pandemic subjectivity’ among human service professionals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)693-704
Number of pages12
JournalSocial Policy and Administration
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • community and neighbourhood activity and participation
  • social work and workers
  • welfare politics


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