Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
RN11_09a_P: Emotions and Capitalism I
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
11:00am - 12:30pm

Session Chair: Merete Monrad, Aalborg University
Location: PB.1.4
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: B, Level: 1.

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The Commodification of Intimate Fathering: Accounts of Love, Change and Emotional consumerism from Scottish and Romanian Fathers

Alexandra Georgiana Macht

The University of Edinburgh, United Kingdom

Both research and media discourses present the modern ‘good’ father’s role as one of enhanced intimacy (Dermott, 2008), in which fathers’ experiences of paternal love become foregrounded. Inspired by Arlie Hochschild’s concept of ‘commodity masculinity’ (1983) and based on data from 47 qualitative interviews with Scottish and Romanian involved fathers of different classes, this article provides a tentative answer to the question ‘How do involved fathers resist or embrace the capitalist culture of intimate life?’ Previous research has argued that love is culturally-embedded (Padilla et al., 2007) and that in emotional capitalism, romantic love is a resource promoting consumerism and deeply affecting the creation of the modern self (Illouz, 2011). I argue that emotional capitalism influences the dissemination of expectations for intimate fathering, while paradoxically encouraging men’s bread-winning practices in a globalized capitalist society. The quality of the father-child relationship is then influenced by practices of love which are performed through tangible commodities, but also resisted through intangible resources. Class seems to have a higher visibility in involved fathers’ practices of love than culture, because fathers love by doing. Therefore the construction of the good/intimate father’s role through consumption is essential in understanding how masculine emotionality is appropriated in capitalism.

As Long as the Music Plays…: discipline, emotions and financial markets

Erik Andersson

Univeristy of Gothenburg, Sweden

It is a misconception that speculative interaction on financial markets is driven by emotions and psychology. Emotions, however, are central for how finance relates to politics and to society. The purpose of this article is to disentangle the emotional dynamic between finance, politics and everyday life, between disciplined finance and the performative realization of a capitalist future. This is the dynamic that gets politicians like Trump and Le Pen elected. This (primarily) theoretical text starts by noting that financial values rest on a continuous materialization of expectations priced into financial instruments, but the fulfillment of these expectations takes place in everyday life. The triumph of neoliberalism became possible thanks to a convergence of the discourse of financial discipline and everyday life. Emotionally and socially one could formulate mundane experience and visions of the future in the same logic as financial valuation. After the financial crisis, and the ensuing popular sense of loss, poverty, insecurity and abandonment, we see an end to this convergence of futures. The “deep story” (Hochschild 2016) of everyday life has become emotionally irreconcilable with the Wall Street future. Interview and media material indicate that this cognitive dissonance opens up for a wide variety of social and political responses, aspiring for emotional attachment to their respective futures. The conclusion is that capitalism is shaken by the divergence of a financial market disciplined future, and everyday life drifting further away from this future and its promises.

YOLO. Emojis and the economisation of emotions

Barbara Frischling, Ruth Dorothea Eggel

University of Graz, Austria

“How are you feeling today?”

This contribution focuses on the contextualization of different forms of emotional expressions in online contexts with a cultural analytical approach. Exemplified by “YOLO” and the practices surrounding emojis we seek to deconstruct the role of emotional expressions in the making of a subject. Emotional expression in online contexts can be read as both, the satisfaction of personal needs as well as the fulfillment of neoliberal imaginations of productivity.

Emojis allow for a „quick and dirty“, but also efficient, visual articulation of emotional states. As immediate expressions, emoji-practices also refer to the dynamics and immediacy of online digitally mediated communication. As visual representations of emotional expressions, which usually become visible through bodily expressions in situative contexts, emojis add an emotional layer to the digital communications repertoire: Engaging with online-content, they allow to show anger, love, sadness and happiness etc.

Looking at the users‘ perspectives, an actor-centered approach allows to emphasize the role of these micro-practices in the broader context of emotional politics. Forms of immediate expression of emotion do not only point to the needs and constraints of neoliberal subject-making, but can further be seen as crucial in online-negotiations of politics, worldviews, beliefs and therefore offer a critical moment of solidarisation and desolidarisation.

Valuing Emotions – Creating Registers of Worth

Uwe Vormbusch

FernUniversität Hagen, Germany

It is widely known that capitalism fundamentally relies on its capacity to evoke desire for the world of commodities. But in an even more intricate way capitalism relies on the subjects’ capabilities to collectively create and utilize their emotional luggage. But even if emotional competencies, motivation, mood and personal commitment are accepted as being increasingly important for value creation and competition, there are no institutionalized systems for measuring them. The talk starts with the observation that this is not only a problem for capitalist organizations, but equally for the subjects themselves. In particular the growing class of auto-entrepreneurs and self-employed are forced to evaluate their emotional capital as one of their most important resources.

Furthermore, the talk argues that new forms of representing and calculating emotions are invented not primarily by the state, but by the subjects themselves. In order to make their immaterial capital visible, they are experimenting with new measures and scales. Through the example of quantified self-observation, known as the Quantified Self, the talk will show how formal representations of emotions are brought into being, thereby inventing new registers of worth. It will be argued that on the individual level numbers and calculations promise to give back control to individuals who are trying to overcome insecurities within crisis-ridden societies. On the social level, measuring emotions as part of the individuals’ immaterial capital is turning the self into a measured self continuously striving for optimization and marketability. Therefore, self-calculation is part of a major shift in the way value is being made accessible and calculable in contemporary capitalism.

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