Understanding and Managing the Emotional Labor of Qualitative Research


  • Carol Rogers-Shaw University of Dayton
  • Jinhee Choi Seoul National University
  • Davin Carr-Chellman University of Dayton




emotional labor, qualitative research, field work, interviewing, vulnerable populations, autoethnography


To offer solutions for qualitative researchers who are working to overcome emotional labor, we have drawn on data from fieldwork focused on marginalized populations including mothers of children with disabilities, North Korean defectors, and educators working in under-resourced, remote rural school districts. It is important to recognize the significance of emotional labor in qualitative studies as its effects can have personal consequences for the researchers, can influence the experiences of vulnerable participant populations, and can shape data analysis. Through a tripartite form of autoethnography, we explored our own experiences of emotional labor. Based on field notes and discussions both during and after fieldwork, we investigated ways to overcome the burdens of emotional labor through personal, relational, and instructional approaches. By elaborating potential areas where scholars can protect themselves from difficulties and grow personally and collaboratively, our findings can help researchers, educators, and students better prepare themselves for investigating the challenges facing marginalized populations while promoting social justice and advocacy.


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Author Biographies

Carol Rogers-Shaw, University of Dayton

Carol ROGERS-SHAW, Ph.D., is an adjunct professor in the Department of Educational Administration in the School of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Dayton, having earned her doctorate in lifelong learning and adult education at Pennsylvania State University. She is a co-editor of Adult Learning. In her research, she focuses on expanding educational access and inclusion for adults with disabilities, stigma and disability disclosure, identity development of learners with disabilities, distance education, universal design for learning, and doctoral education. Her qualitative research projects with marginalized populations are centered on adults with disabilities and mothers of children with disabilities, and her autoethnographic dissertation presents issues of lifelong learning and disability.

Jinhee Choi, Seoul National University

Jinhee CHOI, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral researcher in the Institute for Innovation and Coexistence Education Research in the Department of Education at the Seoul National University. She uses a comparative and interdisciplinary approach in researching and teaching, drawing especially on social theories, cultural and media studies to understand complexities involved in lifelong learning in the contemporary environment. Her research interests concern issues of lifelong learning policy, popular culture and public pedagogy, migration, research ethics, and emerging educational platforms. She earned her Ph.D. in lifelong learning and adult education at Pennsylvania State University. Currently, she is an associate editor of Asia Pacific Educational Review.

Davin Carr-Chellman, University of Dayton

Davin CARR-CHELLMAN, Ph.D. is an associate professor of education in the Department of Educational Administration in the School of Education and Health Sciences at the University of Dayton. He researches individual, organizational, and community capacity building, especially within the framework of adult learning and agency. The specific contexts for his investigations include religious organizations, public schools, online education, and doctoral and graduate education. Davin received his Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University in adult education with a focus on ethical development in community-based organizations. His B.A. and M.A. are in philosophy and are also from Pennsylvania State University.




How to Cite

Rogers-Shaw, C., Choi, J., & Carr-Chellman, D. (2021). Understanding and Managing the Emotional Labor of Qualitative Research. Forum Qualitative Sozialforschung Forum: Qualitative Social Research, 22(3). https://doi.org/10.17169/fqs-22.3.3652