Affective labor is work carried out that is intended to produce or modify emotional experiences in people. This is in contrast to emotional labor, which is intended to produce or modify one's own emotional experiences. Coming out of Autonomist feminist critiques of marginalized and so-called "invisible" labor, it has been the focus of critical discussions by, e.g., Antonio Negri, Michael Hardt, Juan Martin Prada, and Michael Betancourt.
Although its history is as old as that of labor itself, affective labor has been of increasing importance to modern economies since the emergence of mass culture in the nineteenth century. The most visible institutionalized form of affective labor is perhaps advertising, which typically attempts to make audiences relate to products through particular effects. Yet there are many other areas in which affective labor figures prominently, including service and care industries whose purpose is to make people feel in particular ways. Domestic work, frequently ignored by other analysts of labor, has also been a critical focus of theories of affective labor.
His construction of affective labor is concerned with its role as an enabler for a larger capitalist superstructure, where the reduction of alienation is a precondition for the elimination of dissent. Affective labor is part of a larger activity where the population is distracted by affective pursuits and fantasies of economic advancement.