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RN11_08b_P: New Methodologies for Researching Emotions
6:00pm - 7:30pm
Session Chair: Frédéric Minner, University of Geneva
Location:PB.2.5 PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences
136 Syggrou Avenue
17671 Athens, Greece
Building: B, Level: 2.
Reading Emotion from Textual Data: A Sociological Approach
University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom
Textual data in the sociology of emotions sits at an under-examined intersection between documentary and emotions research methodologies. Few sociologists of emotion use documentary data, with most such research coming from historians. There are distinctive methodological questions confronting sociologists of emotion which need clear, practically applicable answers informed by sociological understandings of what emotions are. Drawing on ongoing research on the emotion culture of radical feminism through the independent radical feminist magazine Trouble and Strife, in this paper I will explore the methodological implications of a sociological analysis of the practice of feminist book reviewing. Through the emergence of a controversy in Trouble and Strife in 1986-87 around the way that feminists review books (closely followed by a separate but related one covered in a symposium on 'feminist book reviewing' in Feminist Studies in 1988), the hidden emotional dimensions of this practice are rendered visible. Proceeding from Ian Burkitt's (2014) conception of emotions as relational, Arlie Hochschild's (1979) account of their disciplining function through rules, and Harold Garfinkel's (1967) approach to examining social norms through their breach, the controversy illuminates one way that sociologists can find emotions in text where they are neither named explicitly nor implied through allusions to their somatic manifestations (Scheer, 2012). The development of this methodological approach can help researchers get to grips with what it is to read emotions from text, and increase uptake of the extensive and rich body of archival and secondary data on emotions.
For one thing, emotions seem to count these days. Contemporary modern western societies can be characterized by cultural transformation processes of emotionalization: Throughout many spheres of society emotions – so it seems – are held in high esteem.
For another thing, emotions are also made count(able) recently. There is a wide number of technological programs and apps that focus on (self-)measuring and (self-)tracking emotions. While some rely on specific kinds of standardized self-observation and self-logging of experienced emotions via various software interfaces, others claim to ‚objectively‘ record emotions from an external perspective through a range of sensors and analysis software.
My contribution will provide a critical assessment of contemporary attempts to “make emotions count”. My analysis will be guided by the following questions: What are the problems (of action) which are thought to be solved by emotional (self-)quantification? What kinds of promises are attached to it? And how does this refer to the broader sociohistorical context of contemporary western societies? What do the various efforts of (self-)measuring emotions exactly look like? What are the implicit concepts of emotion underpinning those techniques and what kind of understanding of emotions do they themselves produce in turn?
I will argue that by combining materialistic-rationalistic concepts of emotions with notions of the utter importance of emotional expressivity, the (self-)measuring of emotions – similar to other contemporary programs of emotion management (e.g. emotional intelligence) – contributes to generating a whole new understanding of emotions as phenomena that can be mentally chosen, formed, optimized and used for self-knowledge, self-fulfillment and personal success.
Expressive Creative Encounters: a strategy for sociological research of emotions
CONICET, Argentine Republic
Expressive Creative Encounters (ECE) are designed as spaces for the subjects to express and interpret their emotions in the context of social research. The expressiveness of the social subjects has always been a controversial issue for social sciences, because nobody can “live-within-the-other”. But the “development” and “improvement” of qualitative social research strategies incorporating the “expressiveness’ capture technologies” in a progressive yet steady way have been able to bridge the gap between what the researcher sees and what the subject expresses. Creativity is taken as a starting point to produce expressive experiences where individuals "share" and interpret, both with the researcher and with others, in particular social conditions of existence, their sensations and emotions. At the ECE, three organizational units can be distinguished: moments of expression, expressive components and record strategies, which should be thought in a continuous interaction, communication and tension, establishing a flow of action.
Consequently, the argumentative strategy is as follows: a) First, a concise statement of what is meant by the relationship between expressiveness and creativity is presented, then b) the strategies used to address the aforementioned network of creativity and expression of emotions and sensations in qualitative research today is outlined and, finally c) a definition on what constitutes what we call the Creative Expressive Encounters (ECE) with examples of a specific application thereof is discussed.
Misrecognitive discrimination in public places
Misrecognitive discrimination (MD) is differential treatment on the grounds of membership in a socially salient social group (say, and ethnic group) that brings about inadequate recognition of the discriminatee.
The research program on MD covered in this talk relies on two types of field experiment in public places. The first type of experiment aims to identify subtle forms of discrimination; the second type seeks to assess whether the identified forms of discrimination are misrecognitive, i.e. deviate from socially shared norms of adequate recognition.
After clarifying the concept of MD, the presentation aims to illustrate the program’s rationale through two complete field experiments carried out in the Paris metro. The first study dealt with the discrimination of the Roma. Following a standardized scenario, a confederate actress asked for help to passengers on a metro platform in two conditions (dressed in a Romani skirt or in an unconspicuous style). The experiment revealed among others that passengers subjected the actress in the Romani skirt to a nonverbal pattern known as “visual dominance.”
The second study assessed whether this discriminatory behavior is also misrecognitive. The author pretended to be an inteviewer and invited passengers on a metro platform to participate in an survey. Following a scenario, he enacted visual dominance in one condition but gazed “normally” in the other. The results indicate that visual dominance does have a misrecognitive effect on passengers.
Emotions are a key methodological resource in this program because felt misrecognition manifests in the experiences of shame and “humiliated fury.” The program combines the political theory of recognition, the sociology of discrimination, nonverbal behavior studies, and the affective sciences.