Graduation Year


Document Type

Open Access Senior Thesis

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts



Reader 1

Seo Young Park

Reader 2

Daniel Segal

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Rights Information

© 2018 Delaney M. Dawson


This thesis explores how public high school teachers in Tacoma, WA, USA conceptualize the values and rewards of their career through their professional interactions at various levels of the educational institution. By analyzing teachers’ career motivations, goals, and definitions of success, it becomes clear that these teachers most highly prioritize their affective labor and the relationships they build with their students. Teachers consistently emphasize the non-financial, student-centered elements of the compensation they receive for their work, and their grievances about the structure of the school system primarily center around the constraints placed upon their performance of student-centered affective labor by the neoliberal foci of the institution of the public school. Ultimately, it is argued that teachers’ choice to emphasize this affective labor can be seen as a public reclamation of a historically feminized form of labor in an effort to cultivate a vocational sense of meaning within their career.