Doing Emotion. Emotion Management in German Care Planning Conferences.
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Social work practice makes up part of modern people processing organisations. In their role of a person-related service provider, professionals intervene into the life circumstances of a clientele who regularly suffers from emotionally distressing experiences and critical thresholds of their living conditions. Emotions (one’s own and those of the other) are therefore part of the professionals’ everyday life experiences. Social workers must deal with contingent situations and social relationships frequently shaped by affection and multiple feelings that are only partly predictable. This paper aims to make analytically palpable the mostly ordinary and unobtrusive display of emotional states of the participants during a professional/client encounter. It argues that emotions are pervasively present in the professional/client interaction and that their management is pivotal to realise and secure a stable and resilient working relationship as a bedrock for sustained activities in a series. Based on two longer transcripts of audio-recorded German childcare planning conferences (CPC) referring to residential care it will be shown how feelings and emotions are locally managed in situ supporting the clients’ respect and self-esteem during an institutionally goal-driven meeting even if they do not refer to them in an explicit or verbal kind.