Exploring workplace emotions through stories and metaphors of Indian employees: Contrasting psychoanalytic and aocial constructionist approaches
Ulus, E. (2010) Exploring workplace emotions through stories and metaphors of Indian employees: Contrasting psychoanalytic and aocial constructionist approaches. In: Psychoanalysis, Culture and Society Conference, Middlesex University, London, UK, 5th June, 2010.
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The psychoanalytic and social constructionist perspectives on work place emotion are often presented as conflicting with one another, due to differing assumptions and mistrust about the tenets of the other. In particular, social constructionist approaches have emphasized the public aspects, cultural specificity, and language-mediated qualities of emotional displays. Psychoanalytic approaches, by contrast, have explored the prelinguistic, unconscious and private dimensions of emotions. My doctoral thesis addresses these tensions and seeks to bring these models closer together, to enrich understanding of emotion in organisations. To pursue this research, I conducted interviews with workers in Chennai and Delhi, India. I chose India as my place of fieldwork, because of its diversity and rich emotional landscape, which naturally provide useful resources to examine emotion from more than one perspective. The history of psychoanalysis in India provides unique examples for how to overcome obstacles of juxtaposing these two ways of conceptualising emotion. Furthermore, the emotional landscapes the researcher encounters in India are both very similar and also different from the West, raising unique challenges in understanding and analysing the emotional experiences of working life. Most existing research on emotion in organisations has focused on Western settings, but a multicultural approach may be more relevant to organisational settings today, in which people from different cultures meet in many work spaces. In this paper, I will discuss findings from my study illustrating different ways to overcome points of conflict, such as demonstrating how one approach addresses the limitations of the other. Intertwining culture and unconscious processes will further demonstrate how the tensions can be resolved to strengthen significantly analysis of emotion at work. Moreover, I will provide support for instances in which psychoanalytic interpretations provide depth of understanding beyond what social constructionist approaches alone can reveal about the emotional experiences of organisational members.