Stigmatized labour: an overlooked service worker's stress

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Publication details

Bove, LL & Pervan, SJ 2013, 'Stigmatized labour: an overlooked service worker’s stress', Australasian Marketing Journal, vol. 21, no. 4, pp. 259-263.

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Peer Reviewed



Service workers like social workers are valuable to society (LeCroy and Stinson, 2004), even noble and heroic (Ashforth et al., 2007), yet, perversely, they are often socially stigmatized, seen as “dirty” by their communities because they deal with “tainted” people (Ashforth and Kreiner, 1999). Other service workers also suffer stigmatization because their role is associated with effluent (e.g., refuse collector), they have a servile relationship with others (e.g., housekeeper), or adopt tasks that are perceived as amoral (e.g., pawnbroker) or intrusive (e.g., telemarketer). We propose that feelings of stigma lead to poor well-being and present a conceptual model which introduces the concept of “stigmatized labour” as a type of role stress. We postulate that excessive stigmatized labour (the cognitive and behavioural practices adopted by service workers to protect themselves from feelings of stigma) leads to burnout as service workers’ limited resources are exhausted to deal with the stress (Hobfoll, 2001).