This paper examines how and why parents with children with autism perform emotion work and illuminates the implications for social work. Based on qualitative data, this paper identifies five domains of emotion management strategies, including managing shame and loss, mediation and negotiation in the families, surviving social stigma, surviving institutional barriers, and negotiating socially acceptable identities. This paper contributes to the literature of parenting children with disability by introducing the sociological construct of emotion work (Hochshild, 1984; DeVault, 1999) to the social work literature to highlight the active agency of parental work and broaden the understanding of emotion in the social work context. First, it argues that significance of parents’ emotion work should be acknowledged as including their struggle to survive in a predominantly unfriendly environment. Second, the emotions of these parents are not necessarily associated with negative experiences and the pathological features of their children but can also be linked to a positive and empowering process. Moreover, this paper illuminates the complexity of challenges encountered by parents in relation to the disability discourses and recommends the alternative approach of neurodiversity which is in line with the social work values of social justice and diversity. Copyright © 2020 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.
CitationKwok, K., & Kwok, D. K. (2020). More than comfort and discomfort: Emotion work of parenting children with autism in Hong Kong. Children and Youth Services Review, 118. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1016/j.childyouth.2020.105456
- Children with autism
- Emotion work