Capitalist Heart: Rationality, Emotion and Alienation in Late-Modern Societies

Wednesday, 18 July 2018: 17:30
Oral Presentation
Olga SIMONOVA, National Research University - Higher School of economics, Russian Federation
My main question is whether sociology of emotions can say anything new in understanding the ratio of rationality and emotionality in modern society? Do modern societies promote affective neutrality, thereby creating alienation of a person from his/her own feelings and from other people? How does he/she adapt? Is the demand to be rational in all spheres of life turned into irrationality and violations of social norms?

Based on the analysis of works on the sociology of emotions we can conclude that sociologists argue the rationality of thinking and action is impossible without emotions. Also in according to the values of capitalist society individuals restrain their emotions in order to appear more rational, that is, reasonable, normal. This trend becomes dominant and widespread, what T. Parsons called "secular instrumental activism": individuals control their emotions in both the private and public spheres of society in accordance with a rational and utilitarian worldview. This is evidenced by numerous sociological works on emotion management in sphere of intimate relationships and public sphere of work (and other contexts such as science, sport, social protests etc.) where individuals combine rational choice and their emotions. That's why this kind of capitalism was called “emotional capitalism” (Ellouz, 2007).

Thus the sociology of emotions describes the modern man as permanently controlling in accordance with the instrumental rationality. It seems that alienation from feelings is brought up in modern man, who develops in turn adaptation behavior strategies. However, there is still the possibility of irrational reactions both at the level of individual individuals and at the level of society as a whole: in the form of crimes, protests, moral panics, rejection of important activities for society. So the one of the tasks of the sociology of emotions to research the social consequences of rationality based dispositions on human emotions.