To a student, postgraduate research is often characterised as a very emotional process, more often associated with negative emotion that may hinder successful and speedy completion of the postgraduate degree. The supervisory relationship may impact greatly on the emotion the student experiences. Emotional labour is the induction or suppression of emotion in order to sustain an outward appearance. Being bound in a professional and often subordinate relationship, the student may not be willing, or able to, outwardly display their emotions. Yet, the existence of, and experience of emotional labour on students in a postgraduate supervisory relationship have not been studied to date. The purpose of the study is to explore the meaning and existence of emotional labour within the postgraduate supervisory relationship from a student’s perspective. By using a qualitative, descriptive approach, in-depth information has been gathered by means of three focus groups. The focus groups consisted of students at different stages of the postgraduate supervisory process. The study resulted in the linking of a student’s perspective of the supervisory process to the emotional labour process. It was found that emotional labour is indeed present in the postgraduate supervisory process, but is dependent on the relationship between the supervisor and the student. Since emotional labour has limitedly been explored in the academic environment, it is believed that supervisors as well as students can benefit from this exploration in this fresh context. This linking of emotional labour to the supervisory process is only the first stage in this research and seeks only to describe the process.
Dissertation (MCom)--University of Pretoria, 2013.