Journal of the Indiana Academy of the Social Sciences

Document Type



Although leaders can always use formal power to establish their authority, they do so at risk of alienating group members. By studying theater workers who must establish authority without having the opportunity to establish their expertise, I find a third way of establishing authority: through emotion work that shows commitment to the group and its goals. By employing in-depth interviewing, participant observation, and qualitative content analysis, I find that stage managers establish their concern for the show and key actors by acting as emotional buffers, creating a safe psychological space, and preparing actors for the transition to performance. All of this work comes out of an emotional ideology that puts the good of the show first. Other leaders may be able to employ a similar emotional ideology to influence group members.