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Appears in Collections:Management, Work and Organisation Journal Articles
Peer Review Status: Refereed
Title: The relational work of compassion and toxicity at a pupil referral unit
Author(s): Bolton, Sharon
Laaser, Knut
Keywords: Compassion strategy
performance management
pupil referral unit
relational work
structural toxicity
Issue Date: 16-May-2021
Date Deposited: 11-Jun-2021
Citation: Bolton S & Laaser K (2021) The relational work of compassion and toxicity at a pupil referral unit. Organization.
Abstract: This article contributes to the literature on compassion in organisations by exploring, through the sociology of relational work, how compassion emerges against the backdrop of what is described as structural toxicity; that is, structures, policies and practices that create the material stage upon which compassion may, or may not, materialise. Underfunding, social deprivation and draconian performance measures are all examples of structural toxicities that may trigger relational toxicity, that is conflict, suffering and disconnection at work but also where compassion may emerge in various forms. It is against this backdrop that we seek to address the conceptual and empirical gap in current understandings of compassion in organisations. Theorising from the empirical field, a case is presented in which compassion emerges as a product of the ongoing relational work of teachers in response to structural toxicities that trigger repeated instances of emotional pain and suffering but also joy and engagement with their work and each other.
DOI Link: 10.1177/13505084211015376
Rights: This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License ( which permits any use, reproduction and distribution of the work without further permission provided the original work is attributed as specified on the SAGE and Open Access pages (
Notes: Output Status: Forthcoming/Available Online
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