Emotional labor, an idea first developed by Arlie Hochschild, became a main component of work developing the field of sociology of emotions. Emotion labor provides a conceptual framework for understanding the outward and inward emotional experiences that are deemed either appropriate or inappropriate during interactions with others, specifically in the workplace. A product and derivation of this emotional labor is carefully outlined display rules. These rules vary from position to position, but are often part and parcel of work in the human services sector. This labor can be understood as resulting from the employee's adherence to display rules, which may or may not match the employees' organically felt or perceived emotions at the time. The current study draws from these conceptual frameworks and emotion work typologies introduced by Arlie Hochschild to analyze in-depth, the emotional labor performed by HIV Testers; this study does so through the analytical categories of Bodily Emotion Work, Expressive Emotion Work, and Cognitive Emotion Work. While the current study upholds many conclusions of prior research related to human services, and high rates of emotional labor, this study contributes through introducing the term Emotional Tuning. As based in the dynamic of emotional labor existing between HIV Testers and the patients that they serve, this study puts forth the term Emotional Tuning as the process of one individual scanning or reviewing the emotional state of another. The individual then acts accordingly, based on their interpretation of the other's emotional state, to help influence that emotional state, typically by matching or contrasting with that emotional state. This research contributes by expanding on prior research of emotion work and emotion labor through the specific field of client-based counseling, as there is no known prior research that has delved specifically into the work performed by HIV Testers and the rich experiences had by those delivering HIV results and sexual education, particularly as the emotional labor being studied is not commodified. Such topics as HIV status and sexual health education have been, even recently, overshadowed by stigma. Many Testers in the current study found HIV work to be both the hardest and most rewarding experience of their life. The current study looked closely at the effect that this emotional work had on both the testers interviewed, and the patients they serve and has broad implications for both tester training and client support initiatives.


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Graduation Date





Anthony, Amanda


Master of Arts (M.A.)


College of Sciences



Degree Program

Applied Sociology









Release Date

August 2016

Length of Campus-only Access


Access Status

Masters Thesis (Open Access)

Included in

Sociology Commons