RN11 - Sociology of Emotions

RN coordinator:

Jochen Kleres, University of Gothenburg, Sweden



As in previous years, we will give serious consideration to all high quality abstracts on any emotion-highlighting topic. At the same time we would like to highlight several focal areas of investigation in which abstracts are particularly welcome. These areas cover current developments of great social impact as well as questions of superior scientific importance. In particular we welcome submissions that make fundamental advances about emotion theories of the social—how can we move on to integrating emotions into the core of social theorizing? Secondly, we would like to encourage explorations of fields where there has been relatively little attention for emotions so far.

Proposed Sessions

Open Sessions: We welcome all high-quality papers that squarely address emotions in theory and in empirical research and will make every effort to group them into focused thematic sessions wherever possible.


Theorizing Emotions—Emotionalizing the Social, Specific Emotions, Encountering Affect: Theorizing emotions may venture in at least three directions that we want to highlight here. Emotions are of fundamental importance to all things social. They need to be integrated into general social theorizing. Secondly, there is a dearth of theorizing specific emotions. Finally, we want to encourage engagement with emotion theories in other disciplines, especially the affectual turn in cultural studies.


Reflecting the Emotional Turn – National, International and Disciplinary Trajectories: The sociology of emotions has now a history of well over three decades. The more recent spike in academic interest for emotions has not only affected the sociology of emotions and pushed it into new directions. Other, related disciplines have started to engage with emotions, adding their own impulses to emotion research that created interdisciplinary dynamics. What is more, the expansion of emotion research has followed distinct national trajectories and has been simultaneously an international project. We invite all contributions that reflect on these dynamics, take stock of where we are and carve out paths for future development. We especially welcome papers that contribute reflections from disciplines other than sociology.


Liminality and Affectivity: Situations of uncertainty, ambivalence and people being in an ‘in-between-situation’ can be described as liminal situations, which are very often a strong trigger for different emotions. Papers referring to these situations and affective aspects of liminality are welcomed.


(Joint Session with RN 20) Researching Emotions Empirically – Qualitative Methodologies: We want to continue the thread from several previous meetings and conferences and ask how emotions can be researched empirically. This remains an emerging subfield of the sociology of emotions.  In this joint session, we want to focus on qualitative research methods. Possible issues include but are not limited to:  inquiry and debate about how emotions function in the research process; how to analyze emotions in empirical data; how to gather relevant data; how to device methodologies for specific theoretical concepts, etc.


Researching Emotions Empirically – Advances in Measuring Emotions: While a burgeoning scholarly engagement in methodological issues of emotion research has focused mostly on qualitative methods, we want to put a special emphasis on quantitative sociological methods of researching emotions empirically.


Emotions and Literary Analysis: Part of the interdisciplinary dynamic of the emotional and affective turns in different academic disciplines has been a growing interesting for emotions in literary analysis. We want to invite contributions exploring the cross-disciplinary potential of emotion analyses of fictional text. Literary works can be a valuable resource for emotion research. Not only do they reveal something about the emotional lives of their protagonists, they also shed light on complex emotional dynamics.


Emotions and Morality: Although moral orientations and values have a long tradition in sociological thinking, current research on the relationship between morality and emotions is dominated by psychology, neuroscience, and philosophy. What does a sociological perspective contribute to this topic? How does sociology conceptualize the relationship between morals and emotions? What do we learn about the moral constitution of groups and societies if we look at their emotional lives and dynamics?


Emotions and Globalization: Despite the prominence of globalization in social research, emotions have not figured particularly prominent in global analyses in general. To be sure, there are some fields of recent emotion research that pertain to globalization, e.g. analyses of globalized finance, transnational activism, or post-atrocities politics. Some of these will have dedicated session during this conference. Arguably, however, this has left many aspects of globalization uncharted and they remain separated fields of inquiry that can be fruitfully brought to bear on each other.


(Joint sesseion with RN 34) Emotion and Religion: In times of growing inequalities and the resurgence of newly shaped differences, like anti-Judaism, Islamophobia, homophobia, sexism etc., research on emotions is crucial for the understanding of religious life in Europe. This concerns the coexistence of different religious groups as well as their relation to non-religious groups. Thus we invite papers that consider the relevance of emotions for the social construction of religion and the understanding of religious life in Europe. What can be said about the shapes, characteristics and forms of relationships in these times? And what role do emotional regimes and feeling rules play with regard to the formation of emotional cultures in religious contexts on the macro- as well as on the micro-level.


(Joint Session with RN 13) Emotions, Family and Inequality: There has been a longer concern for emotions in family life within the sociology of emotions. For example, there is a strong interest in emotions motivating everyday family practices, gender dynamics, the social dynamics of intimacy and love, as well as the intensity involved in parenting. At the same time, recent sociological debates about family life have highlighted how newly diversified family relations continue to be characterised by inequalities, not least those of gender, age, social class and ethnicity. Globalization may have an additional impact on this. Exploring the emotional dimensions of such familial inequalities will contribute in important ways to our understanding of the pressures on families generated by inequalities in the wider society, as well as by the normative expectations attached to family relations and positions.

Some issues could be: the emotional dynamics of inequality in everyday family practices; processes of family formation and reconfiguration, including as a consequence of migration; and in the significance of family position as it affects experience and status in other institutional contexts, such as employment, education, healthcare, politics or collective culture.


Emotions and Civic Action: Research on protest and social movements has become a large and well-established field and within this, emotions have received considerable attention recently. Other forms and domains of civic action, however, have not been analyzed from an emotions perspective. How can analyses in both fields be furthered and related to the workings of emotions in politics more generally? Are there emotions other than the ‘usual’ that need to be considered?


Visuals: In this session speakers will share their knowledge about the visuals and the analytical tools that can be used to focus on the emotions they present to their viewers. How should we analyze it? Which theoretical approaches from other disciplines (as for example art history or film studies) can we use? How can we combine visual analysis with the analysis of discourses?


Law: An alleged mainstay of rationality, closer analysis reveals how it is infused with emotions. What strategies and for what purposes were and are emotions evoked in judicial contexts? How were specific trials emotionalized to fight for other (political) agendas? What is the role of emotions in the changing role of law within modern societies?


Finance: The finance system functions as another stronghold of presumed rationality. Recurring speculation, economic and financial crises call for a more critical take on the financial world and the assumption that economic actors – or markets – are rational or that individually rational action will create collective goods.


Post-Atrocities Emotions: In the past two-three decades resurgence in idealism, calling on societies split by violent conflicts to pursue truth, justice and reconciliation (often cast as a preconditions for making a transition to democracy), has re-asserted itself. Both transnationally and in each of the societies whose members had taken part in atrocities, there are attempts to formulate rules for which emotions are prescribed and which are proscribed. Contributions are welcome highlighting in a critical way these emotional regimes and the vested interests behind them.


Emotions and Power: Although both power and emotion are essential features of the conduct and constitution of social life, research on these two phenomena—whatever their conceptual guises—has tended to run in parallel, without explicitly engaging one another. It seems to us that the time is ripe for exploring the connections between these two foundations of society.


Notes for authors

Authors are invited to submit their abstract either to the general session or any specific session. Please submit only to one session. After abstract evaluation, coordinators will have the chance to transfer papers between sessions where applicable.

Abstracts should not exceed 250 words. Each paper session will have the duration of 1.5 hours. Normally sessions will include 4 papers.

Abstracts must be submitted online to the submission platform, see below. Abstracts sent by email cannot be accepted. Abstracts will be peer-reviewed and selected for presentation by the Research Network; the letter of notification will be sent by the conference software system in early April 2015.

Abstract submission deadline (extended):                                                                                                15th February 2015

Abstract submission platform:                                                                                          www.esa12thconference.eu


If you have further questions on the conference, please visit the conference website. For further information on the Research Network, please visit www.europeansociology.org.