Toward a Critical Interactionist Approach to Emotion-As-Practice

Monday, 11 July 2016: 16:00
Location: Hörsaal 4C KS (Neues Institutsgebäude (NIG))
Oral Presentation
Marci COTTINGHAM, University of Amsterdam, Netherlands
Rebecca ERICKSON, University of Akron, USA
Over 35 years after Hochschild (1979) and Shott (1979) each published ground-breaking work theorizing a sociology of emotion, the field has blossomed in unexpected ways with new theories and empirical applications. Of course, critique has also been a healthy part of this development. As part of that critique, Emirbayer and Goldberg (2005) call for an “emotional sociology” rather than a sociology of emotion, which attends to how “matrices of emotional ties or transactions are ordered, how they are put together from within, and how they operate” (497). While they primarily focus on the study of social movements and the role of emotion as a catalyst, their synthesis of pragmatist philosophy with Bourdieu’s theory of social practice make for a compelling critique of the dualisms inherent in current theorizing of emotion and society.

Following their call, this article aims to develop an emotion-as-practice perspective that transcends underlying dichotomies within social theory, synthesizes previous theoretical approaches within the sociology of emotion, and makes the study of emotion more applicable to various facets of the sociological endeavor, including the role of emotion in perpetuating social inequalities. We draw on the work of Pierre Bourdieu to theorize emotion as the non-conscious (potentially conscious or unconscious) modes of engagement/being that infuse and emerge from structural conditions, social interactions, and internalized dispositions. Feelings exist in tandem with information. As the line between reason and emotion is blurred, both infuse each other. Applying this conceptualization to healthcare—an area of general sociological concern, we flesh out a critical interactionist approach to emotion-as-practice using data drawn from 48 nurse diaries. Our findings push for a new conception of emotion as structured, as well as fluidly absorbed, channeled, and transformed into other emotions, cognitions, and actions within every day social practice.