A review of current sociological research on teachers’ emotions: The way forward

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During the mid-1990s, teachers’ emotions emerged as an area of research in the sociology of teaching because many teachers all over the world were reported to be unhappy, dissatisfied, stressed, frustrated, and even alienated. This implies that teachers’ emotions, especially negative ones, go beyond individual factors and have become a social issue. Therefore, researchers use sociological perspectives and theories to deepen our understanding of the phenomenon. In order to advance the development of this newly-emerged field in sociology, this article reviews the sociological theories commonly applied to study teachers’ emotions: labor process theory, emotional labor theory, and theory of emotional geographies. It is suggested that the theories focus on either structural or agential influences to teachers’ emotions. It may limit their explanation about teachers’ emotions because emotions are constructed and conditioned by teacher agency and socio cultural structure. Thus, this article proposes a sociological framework which considers both structural and agential effects to teachers’ emotions. Moreover, a research agenda is also addressed in this article. Copyright © 2014 Tsang; This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)241-256
JournalBritish Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science
Issue number2
Early online dateNov 2013
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


Tsang, K. K. (2014). A review of current sociological research on teachers’ emotions: The way forward. British Journal of Education, Society & Behavioural Science, 4(2), 241-256. doi: 10.9734/BJESBS/2014/6898


  • Teachers’ emotions
  • Labor process
  • Emotional labor
  • Emotional geographies


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