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At Face Value? Image Consultancy, Emotional Labour and Professional Work

Christine A. Wellington and John R. Bryson
Sociology
Vol. 35, No. 4 (November 2001), pp. 933-946
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42856349
Page Count: 14
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Since scans are not currently available to screen readers, please contact JSTOR User Support for access. We'll provide a PDF copy for your screen reader.
At Face Value? Image Consultancy, Emotional Labour and Professional Work
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Abstract

This paper draws upon empirical research into the image consultancy industry in the United Kingdom. This industry is becoming increasingly important as a provider of knowledge and expertise to employers and individuals. We suggest that the literature on new forms of service employment (emotional labour and hybrid forms of work) has neglected to explore well-paid professional employees. We argue that this group is equally implicated in societal pressures to conform to conventional heterosexual images of femininity and masculinity. Pressures to conform do not have to come from management, but from professional bodies, the media and clients. Image consultancy provides one way of encouraging employees to alter their image as the advice can be packaged as independent of the employer and professional. We conclude that the new profession of image consultancy is more about gender than image. Consultants are selling codified knowledge for the construction of particularly socially accepted or preferred forms of bodily identity.

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