Collective Construction of persons between Habitus and Emotion
Institute for Social Sciences in Agriculture University Hohenheim Stuttgart, Germany
Emotions of communities are often observed with fear as well as with hope. Tönnies' concept of community based on natural-will already included emotional aspects, while feelings for, and within the community provided its binding force. But the importance of emotions are abated by its society counterpart and its rational will. The following debates on the difference between society and community furthermore marginalized emotions along community under the perspective of modernization. The assumption that community and emotions are antiquated became stronger, notwithstanding Durkheim's effervescence and Weber's charismatic leadership taking effects in emotional communities.
Nevertheless there are good reasons to argue that emotions are a necessary momentum for the everlasting production of simplified self-descriptions viz. identity, thus being prerequisites for the development of modern individuality. The role of emotions for the reproduction of personal identity is closely connected to the respective habitus. Habitus appears as a set of implicit, schematic knowledge of scriptures, which is configured and confirmed by emotional experiences.
Through the analysis of an environmental catastrophe such as the flood of the river Oder in 1997, the importance of emotions could be revealed - most notably in situations of crisis. In such situations, expectations bound to habitus meet resistance to reality; becoming problematic and explicit, and consequently arguable. The expectations focus on the validity of values symbolizing the boundaries of particular communities. The disappointment of these expectations by exceptional circumstances renders an impact on the simplified self-descriptions - the identities. The relevant self-description can be stabilized by experiencing the constitution and confirmation of the validity of values in a new way within a particular community. The collective confirmed fulfillment of a newly constituted validity of values has a positive emotional effect, leading to the habitualization of the now expected value-validity. Individuals can describe themselves in a reassured way because the renewed self-descriptions and its implied values are proved for this particular community. The basic constitutive and confirmatory emotional process also casts a new light onto the status of communities. Communities henceforth appear as a modern phenomenon, which deals with the problem of stratificational unbound individuality.