Scholarship: “Going off scripts: emotional labor and technoliberal managerialism”

Out online-first in Critical Studies in Media Communication: “Going off scripts: emotional labor and technoliberal managerialism,” co-authored with Misti Yang.

Originally conceived to highlight problematic labor relations that required emotions, the term emotional labor is now deployed to describe emotional relations that require problematic labor. In this paper, we identify how digital platforms have amplified this inverted form of emotional labor and spawned a phenomenon we term technoliberal managerialism, or the use of the connection, quantification, control, tracking, and optimization capacities of technology to manage everyday interactions. Through the analysis of viral self-help Twitter threads, a mobile application, and an algorithmic prototype we trace how the resulting habituation rewards happiness, efficiency, and uniformity at the expense of moodiness, messiness, and difference. Ultimately, we argue that going off scripts and embracing the “fuck up” can help resist technoliberalism.

You can read the entire essay at CSMC, or email me (mattsalzano AT gmail DOT com) to get a PDF.

I also wrote up a twitter thread about the essay if you’re interested in a more casual summary of our insights.

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