SOC 388 March 29 2012
Sociology of Emotions
Spontaneous & Managed
Feedback & Amplification
Social Components of Emotions
Emotions are personal and subjective. Normally thought to be innate psychological characteristics.
Today we are looking at emotions with a sociological spin
Looked at emotions throughout the whole course – many of the text talked about emotions as
something that has happened in the past. Can tell us only so much.
E.g. embarrassment, becoming an ex and the emotions around this. Doesn’t tell us how emotions are
experienced. Tells us about the social norms that guide emotions, in Goffman some of the ways we
Today, talking about them as a physical embodied experience. Talking about them as a sociological
phenomenon. How is it we experience emotions the way we do? Not as something remembered and re
counted but something experienced in the moment
Emotions = transformation in an ongoing self
The views up until that we looked at saw the self as a response to someone else. The idea of th looking
glass self. Hallett adds new dimension, not just a response to an input
Hallet asks what is sociological about emotions? How can they be studied sociologically?
Jack Katz – “how emotions work” Katz wrote an entire book about emotions and devoted each
chapter to an emotion. Presented emotions as something from the outside and beyond our control. At
the same time part of our intimately subjected lives. Even though experience is internal, they come from
Emotions appear as an object. Something outside of ourselves. But also a subjective that is redefining
itself. They are always in movement. Laugh then stop, cry then stop. Not stable statesWhy are funny noises associated with laughter? Essentially just a weird sound. How do we create
emotions? Why are tears associated with sadness? Why do we cover faces when in shame? Shout when
angry? We take it as a given / natural but they are not
Katz asks how do people not realize they are creating their emotions? How is that we all have the
confidence to shape and show emotions in particular ways? If we are happy we laugh, if are angry we
There are many occupations were emotions are important. Pre school teachers, police investigators.
Emotions different in different context.
Hallett uses e.g. of a restaurant to see how emotions unfold and how they are managed. Focuses on
emotions in face to face interaction.
How are emotions social? Through emotional experiences we shape meaning for ourselves and others.
See this in Halletts examples. Whatever mood the server is in, it will shape the mood and meaning for
the customers. Its one thing if they are smiley and another if they are miserable. Interaction is shaped by
emotional space and experience of those spaces
One thing we don’t see in Hallett but in Katz there is a very embodied dimension to emotions they
are experienced in the body. Get embarrassed so body temp goes up, angry you shake, laugh you feel
lighter. Often we put emotions opposite of thoughts. Thoughts are rational. Thought seen as reflective
and emotions the opposite. They don’t operate like thoughts. Hallett says emotions are not self
reflective. We see thinking as self reflective. We need to bear in mind meads definition of seeing our
selves as an object we don’t usually see emotions this way. What sociologists of emotions tell us it that
they are just as self reflective as thinking the only difference is that thinking can be put into words.
We produce are emotions but at the same time experience them from the outside.
Interactional nature of emotions people shape the meaning of emotions for others.
Proff asks class why do we cry? Doesn’t feel managed. sometimes can control it. Try to prevent
ourselves from crying. Attacks us from the outside sometimes cant hold it back. But we cry to show
others something. (Unless someone is crying on purpose.) Katz says we do it show others how we are
feeling. If you start crying then the person who is bothering or being mean will usually stop. Unless they
are evil. Person around you may hug, or try to do something to make them stop crying. The sociological
explanation of this is even though emotions comes from outside it is done to shape interaction with
If someone talks and we laugh what are we doing? Defining the situation as a positive and the defining
the person as funny. If you start telling a joke and no one laughs you stop. Interactionally encouraging or
discouraging what’s going on.
Social norms shape emotions we d