9th Conference European Sociological Association

RN11 Sociology of Emotions

2009-09-03 09:00:00 2009-09-03 10:30:00 Thursday, 3 September 09:00 - 10:30 Theorising Emotions Building II, C6.09

Emotions and Everydaylife: The "Homo Sentiens" Floating between Late Moderns Ambivalences

The aim of this communication is to highlight some trends and countertrends that seem to characterize everydaylife of contemporary individuals. Starting from Simmel?s analysis about modernity´s peculiar forms of sociality (Simmel 1908; Levine 1971), I argue that the two social poles emphasized by the German sociologist seem to be stronger now than in the past. I notice growing stiffening between an inescapable need of loneliness and the necessity of relating with other individuals. In this context, it appears that the contemporary individual manifests his unease chosing different forms of experience to spread his emotionality.
My hypothesis identifies two new social and emotional poles in which it is possible to grasp this experiential stiffening: on the one hand, there are forms of experience, like the hikikomori phenomenon in Japan (Furlong 2008; Zielenziger 2007), that I call social retreat; on the other hand, there are forced collective identifications (Haroche 2008; Hochschild 2003; Lacroix 2001). I argue therefore that emotions are becoming now fundamental instruments in order to reach a compromise with everydaylife routines. In other words, I believe that the issue is learning how to "handle" our emotions.
The sociological concept of ambivalence is the leitmotif of my analysis (Nedelmann 1992). I believe that ambivalence is the key for a thorough enquiry into contemporary social relations. In fact, as I will try to make clear that it plays a primary role into social interactions and as well as in the social construction of emotions inside the two poles mentioned above.

Furlong A., 2008, "The Japanese hikikomori phenomenon", «Sociological Review», 56(2), pp. 309-325.
Haroche C., 2008, "L´avenir du sensible: le sens et les sentiments en question", PUF, Paris.
Hochschild A.R., 2003, "The Commercialization of Intimate Life", University of California Press, Berkeley.
Lacroix M., 2001, "Le culte de l´émotion", Flammarion, Paris.
Levine D.N., 1971, "Introduction", on "Georg Simmel. On individuality and Social Forms", Chicago University Press, Chicago.
Nedelmann B., 1992, "L´ambivalenza come principio di socializzazione", «Rassegna Italiana di Sociologia», 33(2), pp. 233-55.
Simmel G., 1908, "Soziologie", Duncker&Humbolt, Berlin.
Zielenziger M. 2007, "Shutting Out the Sun", Nan A. Talese, New York.