'The right kind of person for the job'? Emotional labour and organizational professionalism in probation
This paper utilises the concept of organizational professionalism to illustrate the importance of emotional labour for probation practice, as well as its potential consequences for practitioners. Based on an ethnographic study of a probation office led by a privately-owned Community Rehabilitation Company, the paper demonstrates that probation values are operationalised through the performance of emotional labour with offenders. However, the implementation of the Transforming Rehabilitation (TR) reforms has exacerbated long-term trends away from working with ‘people’ towards working with ‘things’ – that is, the information technologies used to log performance. That practitioners are willing to forgo their administrative responsibilities to spend time with their clients suggests emotional labour is fundamental to practitioner understandings of professional identity. The paper thus demonstrates that the challenges of balancing a client-centred ideology of service with the increased administrative pressures that have accompanied the TR reforms have further exposed probation practitioners to stress, strain, and sickness.