Trends in Affective Labour: Cuddles and ‘Happy’ Meals

Here are a few recent discussions of affective labour in the media that you might find interesting.

A screenshot of the Cuddle Co. website.

A screenshot of the Cuddle Co. website.

The first of these is the rise of ‘cuddle’ companies, apparently coming to Toronto in the near future (and apparently they’re hiring.) The article discusses the ways in which these businesses have at time run afoul of laws regarding prostitution.

On a related note, McDonald’s launched its ‘pay with lovin’ campaign during the Superbowl this past week (see the advertisement below.) The campaign asks customers to pay for their food by carrying out a variety of affective tasks. However, as this article points out, this also puts demands on the workers (who are already paid low wages) to commit emotionally to their work as well. As the author explains,

They have to come up with cutesy tasks for their customers. And if the ad itself is any indication, they can’t just deadpan a request that a family hug. If someone dances, they have to dance too. If someone doesn’t seem too pumped to call his mom, they have to needle him into it. And they have to react with joy when the asked-for response is delivered. The workers are being told to put on a performance for customers in order to get a performance back.