Syed, Jawad and Ali, Faiza (2013) Contextual emotional labor: an exploratory study of Muslim female employees in Pakistan. Gender in Management: An International Journal, 28 (4). pp. 228-246. ISSN 1754-2413

Purpose – The aim of this paper is to examine contextual emotional labor, which is a long-term emotional experience in response to conflicting demands of societal and organizational contexts.

Design/methodology/approach – Drawing on qualitative interviews with Muslim female employees in two textile firms in Lahore, Pakistan, the paper explores the nature and extent of contextual emotional labor associated with these women's decision to step into “the male domain”.

Findings – The study identifies contextual emotional labor as an integral part of Muslim female employees' work in the formal employment sector resulting from an ongoing tension between the display rules of the workplace and Islamic female modesty.

Research limitations/implications – Scholars may wish to investigate the nature and form of contextual emotional labor in diverse geographic, cultural and religious contexts in order to refine the findings and theoretical implications of this study.

Practical implications – Organizations may consider placing Muslim women in those roles in which there is lesser likelihood of conflict between their organizational and societal display rules, while not compromising their career. On a societal level, policy makers and religious scholars may consider findings ways to promote an enlightened interpretation of religious principles and their gender egalitarian practices to alleviate the contextual emotional labor experiences by female employees and other relevant groups.

Originality/value – The paper offers original empirical research on an under-explored topic and geographical area.

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