On Friending and Feelings: Civilised, managed or relational emotions in everyday life?
Sociology Flinders University Adelaide, Australia
The feelings that flit or linger between us in our daily lives are often difficult to capture. To do so has been the realm of poets, novelists or artists, more than sociologists. Joy, boredom, excitement, sadness and other emotions are fundamental to social life, but attempts to rationally analyse them often strip them of their sensual and emotive impact. One solution is to "sneak up" on these emotions by round about means. Norbert Elias and Arlie Hochschild have both maintained some sense of embodied emotionality in their work by looking not directly at emotions, but at etiquette and advice books. This paper applies a similar approach to more recent forms of website advice about etiquette for using social network sites (in particular Facebook). It is argued that this advice, and responses to it, can help reveal not only current social rules about emotional expression, but how people currently manage emotions not only around those rules, but in relation to others. This relational emotionality is core to the reproduction of an everyday social life in which nation states have become decentred.