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SIEF2011 10th Congress: Lisbon, Portugal.
17-21 April 2011

(P214)

Emotions and the public sphere

Location ID, Piso 0, Room 7
Date and Start Time 19 Apr, 2011 at 11:30

Convenors

Maria Claudia Coelho (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro) email
Susana Durão (UNICAMP (São Paulo, Brazil)) email
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Short Abstract

This panel invites contributors to challenge traditional associations of emotions with the realms of privacy and intimacy, addressing issues concerning the roles emotions may play in public realms of life, particularly those of work places, social and cultural movements and political agendas.

Long Abstract

Emotions constitute an aspect of individual lives traditionally associated in modern Western societies with psychological experience and universal attributes. These common-sense associations have contributed to a number of characteristics social sciences have hitherto often presented in their efforts to address emotion as an object of research. Among these, one could point out its recurrent association with the realms of privacy and intimacy, which have been inviting social scientists to think about emotion in relation to other aspects of human lives also associated with psychological and corporeal experiences, such as health/illness, gender and body issues.

In the last two decades, attempts have been made to elaborate theoretical models that are able to deal with public aspects of emotion, focusing on its micro-political capacities, that is, its potential to reinforce, alter or dramatize the macro-relations of power and hierarchy in which interpersonal relations are embedded. This panel invites contributors to think about the roles the emergence, suppression or display of emotions play in public realms of life, particularly those of work relations, social and cultural movements and political issues. There are four major lines of inquiry that this panel intends to contemplate: a - theoretical models in the research of micro-politics of emotions; b - emotions and violence; c - emotions and cultural/social movements; and d - the rationality/emotionality duality in work places.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.

Papers

Morality and emotion in cultural movements: AfroReggae Cultural Group and its 'social technologies'

Authors: Maria Claudia Coelho (Universidade do Estado do Rio de Janeiro)  email
Susana Durão (UNICAMP (São Paulo, Brazil))  email
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Short Abstract

This paper analyzes “social technologies” created by Cultural Group AfroReggae (Rio de Janeiro, Brazil) as a “moral project”. Its emphasis is on the intertwining between emotions and moral conceptions in cultural movements.

Long Abstract

This paper deals with the relationship between morality and emotion in a project for social intervention elaborated by AfroReggae Cultural Group (GCAR). The group was founded in Rio de Janeiro in 1993. Its main purpose is to offer alternatives to drug trafficking to young people who inhabit in slums. Among its initiatives one could mention workshops, which are mostly devoted to artistic activities, and projects meant to bridge the gap between distinct groups in Rio's society, particularly policemen and young slum inhabitants. As part of this project, GCAR creates a flow of discourses in different media, such as the internet, movies, and books. Some stories are constantly told in these discourses, composing a kind of "fable". This paper intends to examine this fable's "morals", establishing as main focuses of analysis two oppositions: martyr/survival and utopia/hope. Our hypothesis is that of the existence of a fundamental issue: the idea of responsibility towards the other. This hypothesis justifies the theoretical combination of the concept of "moral project" (Cole, 2003) with the notion of a "micro-politics of emotion" (Lutz and Abu-Lughod, 1990). The data analyzed is composed of several discourses produced by GCAR: movies, books, group members' interviews to television shows and in-depth interviews conducted during fieldwork. Our purpose is to emphasize the central place this fable occupies in the elaboration of the group's self-image.

The 10th of April 2010: an example of religious-political emotions displayed by Polish society

Author: Bożena Gierek (Jagiellonian University)  email
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Short Abstract

I will present the various aspects of emotions displayed in public by Polish people, evoked by the national tragedy that happened on the 10th of April 2010 at Smolensk. At the same time, I will show, how and why the same symbols, that once united Polish people, seem to divide them now.

Long Abstract

The very turbulent history of Poland has united the society and the Catholic Church in the fights for national independence throughout centuries. Hence, manifest is the occurrence of religious symbols and songs, along with patriotic ones, in all major Polish battles, as well as in the struggles with the communist system. One could expect, however, that after 1990 there would be no need to refer to them on the political scene. The 10th of April 2010 - the day of the greatest tragedy in Polish modern history, when the airplane with the President of Poland and many representatives of the Polish political and ecclesiastical elite crushed at Smolensk - proved something different. That very same day people started to spontaneously gather in public places in Poland (churches, sites of national memory, at the President's Palace, etc.). The week after the crash was especially full of public displays of emotions by Poles. These emotions are still present - now centered on the cross that was erected on the square in the front of the President's Palace and which was to be removed from there on the 3rd of August 2010. This transfer to a nearby church was hindered by a crowd of people maintaining a constant vigil.

Basing on my direct observations, conversations with people (both participants of the gatherings and outsiders), as well on information drawn from the media and press, I will present the various aspects of emotions displayed in public by Polish people, evoked by the national tragedy. At the same time, I will show, how and why the same symbols, that once united Polish people seem to divide them now.

Emotional energy and citizenship-making: the case of Solidarity

Author: Karin S. Lindelöf (Uppsala University)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper explores the meaning of emotions in the making of citizenship through the Polish shipyard strike in Gdansk 1980. At the focus of attention is the creation of emotional energy and how this contributes to the experiences, memories and representations of the strike.

Long Abstract

This paper explores the meaning of emotions in the making of citizenship through public revolts. It analyses a case-study of a much acknowledged citizenship-constructing event: the Polish shipyard strike and the birth of Solidarity in Gdańsk, August 1980, which has been mythologized as the starting point of the fall of Communism in Central and Eastern Europe. The paper specifically examines the creation of what sociologist Randall Collins calls emotional energy and how this contributes to citizenship-making actions and experiences of the participants of the strike, as well as to representations, memories and anniversary celebrations of the event later on (such as the 30th anniversary celebrations in Gdańsk 2010). By applying Collins' theoretical model of interaction ritual chains, where emotional energy is a crucial concept, this paper contributes to two of the major lines of inquiry proposed by the panel organizers: a) theoretical models in the research of micro-politics of emotions; and c) emotions and cultural/social movements.

The car, the pistol and the knife preserving public emotions through sensational objects

Author: Irene Stengs (Meertens Institute)  email
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Short Abstract

Recently (September 2010) a debate has broken out in the Netherlands surrounding the preservation and exhibition of the ‘weapons’ involved in recent political killings. This paper seeks to understand the upheaval by addressing the relation between societal rupture, public emotion and the value attributed to the objects involved.

Long Abstract

This paper addresses the relation between societal rupture, public emotion and the value attributed to the objects involved in the crisis. The material is based on three case studies, all related to 21st Dutch society. The objects concerned are: the pistol that killed politician Pim Fortuyn (May 2002); the knife that the assassinator left in the chest of filmmaker Theo van Gogh (November 2004); the car that was meant to hit the Queen and the royal family during the 2009 Queens Day celebrations, killing seven members of the audience instead. Although the (attempted) assassinations differ in political background, social context and outcome, they are similar in that they evoked a widespread public outcry and created a sense of crisis among the Dutch populace. Ephemeral memorials on the place of mischief were the most visible material manifestations of the emotions involved.

Recently (September 2010) a debate has evolved surrounding the preservation of the 'weapons' involved. The upheaval started when the bereaved of the 'Queens Day tragedy' learned about the intended preservation of the wrecked car in the Police Museum. Similar plans and similar emotions surround the preservation and possible future exhibition of the pistol and the knife, i.c. in the Rijksmuseum. The paper investigates the ambiguous nature of the objects, that for one part are historical objects, worthwhile to be kept and preserved, and to be exhibited sometime in the future. Simultaneously, they are sensational objects charged with hate and abhorrence in a media-driven emotion society.

Emotional relations in fieldwork on sexual violence in Guadeloupe

Author: Janine Klungel  email
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Short Abstract

Starting from the anthropological relationship, this presentation focuses on the ways that the expression of emotions related to experiences of sexual violence, repeatedly presented as 'too intimate' to be manifested publicly, challenge political and social norms of privacy in creative means.

Long Abstract

Persons who have experienced sexual violence often find it hard to express emotions, hiding their feelings deep inside because the pain is too hurtful to carry or feeling too afraid or guilty to manifest sentiments like anger publicly. Moreover, the social norm prescribes that these emotions are too intimate to enter the public realm and therefore should remain concealed. In this presentation it is asked how these underground emotions find ways to break the surface and come out into the open to challenge the historical, political and social context of privacy.

Starting from the anthropological relationship between a Dutch anthropologist and Guadeloupian interlocutors who lived through incest and rape, this presentation specifically pays attention to the ethnographer's emotional response to and the emotional interaction with interlocutors throughout and after the fieldwork on sexual violence (Lutz and White 1986). It is reflected upon the ways that different cultural contexts have impact on the means to articulate and heal emotional trauma - both personal and cultural - in creative ways.

In combining both insights and illustrations from anthropology and creative therapy, it is argued that in the study of emotions and violence, scholars in anthropology and psychology should work hand in hand to show the interrelatedness of the social and individual body, to question the 'casualness' of what emotions actually entail, and to confront cultural biases regarding the public expression of emotional trauma caused by sexual violence.

The anthropologist in the (police) field: the own emotionality as a way of knowledge

Author: Mariana Sirimarco (Universidad de Buenos Aires)  email
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Short Abstract

Fieldwork involves, as in any human relationship, feelings and emotions. Which are the reactions aroused by the fact of approaching a controversial institutional actor? And how can these own feelings and emotions have a place in the process of constructing knowledge?

Long Abstract

I have been doing fieldwork in police schools by eleven years. Fieldwork involves, as in any human relationship, feelings, reactions and emotions. Which are the implications of using an approach based on methodological proximity to do research in an institution whose praxis can be experienced as controversial? Which are the reactions aroused by the fact of approaching an institutional actor so different to oneself?

The relationship with others exposes us to new experiences, leads us to new boundaries. And here is where appears, in ethnographic scene, the own emotional baggage. It is clear that the intrusion of subjectivity and the emotionality attached to it are a systematic data within the intellectual routine of anthropological research. Nevertheless, feelings -mostly when are one´s own- are usually and quickly transformed in non-invited guests of ethnographic text.

This paper tries to share some of my personal experience to reflect upon the figure of the anthropologist in the field and upon the challenge and the richness that entails the use of feelings and emotions as a way of knowledge.

Emotions at work: thinking about the emotional dimension as a tool for social analysis

Author: Ana Spivak L'Hoste (CNRS - Université de Grenoble)  email
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Short Abstract

This paper attempts to study categories and narratives referring to emotion in a professional world. In order to do it, I will analyze a set of interview materials. The hypothesis is that such categories and narratives inform us about identities, institutional belongings and social contexts.

Long Abstract

Emotion is an open and heterogeneous field of analysis. During the last 40 years, psychology, biology, sociology and anthropology, among others disciplines, have tried to understand its constitution, its manifestations and its effects. As a consequence, different empirical and conceptual approaches have been developed to study emotion, in spite of the debates around its status as an object of research.

This paper hopes to go deep into the discussion about the potential of emotional dimension to study social life. In this specific case, its potential to study some features of the professional world. In order to do it, I will examine professional careers of researchers and technicians working at the National Atomic Energy Commission (Argentina) who I have interviewed during several fieldwork periods. In particular I will identify, in theirs professional careers, the categories that refer to emotion as well as the narratives about practices, situations and events enacting it. The hypothesis is that such categories and narratives, observable traces of emotion, may provide key information to understand some aspects of the social dynamics in which actors are involved. More precisely, categories and narratives may provide information about differences between generations regarding institutional belonging, different identities related to work activities and some elements of the broader contexts where both professional careers and the institution are inserted.

How corporations prevent and induce guilt

Author: Sylvia Terpe (Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology)  email
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Short Abstract

The paper will focus on four mechanisms employed by corporate actors to prevent or induce feelings of guilt in its employees. While prevention mechanisms stabilize social boundaries between staff and clients, inducement mechanisms maintain structural inequalities of employee-corporation relations.

Long Abstract

Guilt is seen as a necessary ingredient of viable societies since it keeps individuals in line with moral codes (Turner/Stets 2005). However, corporate actors like business companies and public administrations may (un-)intentionally prevent or induce guilt in its employees to strengthen social boundaries and power structures. On basis of organization and emotion research at least four mechanisms can be distinguished.

The first two mechanisms protect employees from guilt towards clients or customers. 1) In corporations with highly compartmentalized structures and hierarchies (bureaucracies) employees can shift responsibility for their actions to higher authorities or diffuse blame altogether (Kelman/Hamilton 1989). 2) Professional role expectations may equip employees with group specific values which provide accounts to be relieved of guilt. E.g. the professional ethic of "procedural correctness" in the Swedish Migration Board allows for the rejection of asylum seekers while at the same time celebrates humanitarian values (cf. Wettergren 2010).

Two additional mechanisms apply to so called "new organizational cultures" of more flattened organizational structures. 3) The emphasis on metaphors like "team" and "family" with its connotation of sharing, cooperation and belonging may increase commitment to colleagues and hence induce guilt towards them (Casey 1999). 4) Contradictory directives by management may promote guilt in employees owed to the impossible task to accomplish them. E.g. German labour administration asks its employees to respect clients autonomy and be empathetic while simultaneously demands them to realize authority rights (cf. Terpe/Paierl 2010). Both mechanisms can be interpreted as organizational practices of compliance and control discouraging resistance.

The moods of the market: emotional tales on the verge of financial crash

Author: Daniel Seabra Lopes (CSG-ISEG/University of Lisbon)  email
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Short Abstract

This communication focus on how traders follow the moods of the market according both to technical data and narrative plots stemming from rumours and news. Emotions of traders will also be considered, especially when it comes to the management of uncertainty and despair at a time of general market turbulence.

Long Abstract

Recent ethnographic accounts of market floors and trading rooms confront us a world enveloped by complex technological devices and, at the same time, traversed by strong emotions like anxiety, fear and panic or expectation, self-fulfilment and euphoria. This applies both to the market as a larger entity and to traders, brokers, investors and other professionals of the financial sector working on particular worksites. The aim of this communication is to describe how the moods of the market are publicized, acknowledged, interpreted and dealt with by traders, paying attention to the use of technical data presented on screen (like indexes and graphs) as well as of narrative plots stemming from rumours and news. The emotions of traders engaged with investment activities will also be considered, especially when it comes to the management of uncertainty and despair at a time of general market turbulence. The findings are based on fieldwork conducted on a Portuguese market room during the summer of 2008, encompassing the critical moment of Lehman Brothers' collapse.

Institutional management of emotions: the case of the adoption process by single-parents

Authors: Raquel Medina (Universidad Complutense Madrid)  email
Ana María Rivas (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)  email
Maria Isabel Jociles Rubio (Universidad Complutense de Madrid)  email
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Short Abstract

In the emotional field of adoptive maternity/paternity by choice, emotions become an area of public scrutiny. This is construed as a condition to legitimize the intervention of experts (social workers, psychologists, judges, legal actors, etc.), with the child's best interest as an alibi.

Long Abstract

We present part of the results of a research project centered on single-parenthood by choice. The study has gathered data from three different Spanish regions, and includes interviews with mothers/parents embarked in single-parenting projects through international adoption process, as well as observations in different virtual, formative and associative spaces in which these families participate.

We examine the construction process of a field, "the emotional field of adoptive maternity/paternity", in which the feelings and emotions tied to the adoption process, although pertaining to the private realm, become an area of public scrutiny. This transformation is construed as a condition to legitimize the intervention of adoption experts (social workers, psychologists, pedagogues, judges, social educators, etc.) in the process. The child's best interest is used to legitimize before themselves, before the families and society, the 'intrusion' in this intimate field of single-parent lives. In the case of single men and women this 'intrusion' is strongly oriented towards their sexual lives, the existence or not of a partner (or the project of having one), their emotional stability, the availability or not of social support networks, etc. We also analyze the definitional work performed by institutions and professionals on the affective life of these women/men, as in need of direction and control (examination and evaluation), as well as regulation according to the ideal adoptive maternity/paternity that is held by these professionals/institutions and to the attributions that are made in relation to single-parents' capacity to create a bond with their future child.

This panel is closed to new paper proposals.