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Session Overview
RN11_10b_P: Collective Emotions and Identity IV
Friday, 01/Sep/2017:
2:00pm - 3:30pm

Session Chair: Jonathan G. Heaney, Queen's University Belfast
Location: PB.2.5
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: B, Level: 2.

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United in outrage: from a 'moral shock' to affective solidarity during Polish Women's 'Black Protest' of October 2016

Maja Sawicka

University of Warsaw, Poland

Emotional underpinnings of collective action are widely acknowledged in the field of sociology of emotions. One of the most persuasive models of the role exercised by emotions in the collective mobilisation was presented by James Jasper in his theory of 'moral shocks,' that is highly affectively loaded situations or events which become an emotional stimulus, inclining individuals towards political action.

In my presentation I employ the Jasper's model to analyse the course of events during Polish Women's 'Black Protest' (3 October 2016): a massive nation-wide wave of demonstrations against a new draft of abortion bill, more restrictive than the regulations already in force. Based on empirical analysis of narratives of the participants I reconstruct the trajectory of the 'Black Protest,' identifying the 'moral shock,' which inducted the events, emotions it activated, the rise of a collective identity which emerged during the 'Protest,' and its decline afterwards.

I claim that although Jasper's model properly indicates the key importance of strong emotional impulses as triggers of individuals' engagement in collective action, it does not expose the interactional mechanisms through which given collective identities emerge, and are maintained. In the analysis that follows I highlight the role of emotional display, and emotional communication among the participants as a factor which enables a mutual identification as members of a 'we-group,' and emergence of a collective solidarity based on a shared affect. I demonstrate that such affective solidarity persists only as long as members of the group succeed in communicating and sharing emotions.

Beyond Cognitive Praxis: Decoding the affective aspect of protest participation

Dionysios Mitropoulos

Birkbeck, University of London, United Kingdom

During the last few years, waves of protest and/or social movements emerged all around the globe, such as the Spanish ‘Indignados’, the Occupy movements, and the Greek ‘Aganaktismenoi’. These mobilisations have been accused of having a strong emotional character, being apolitical and dispersed while lacking a specific political agenda. A number of scholars, despite the impact of the ‘affective turn’ on social movement theory, mostly following rationalist approaches, argue that these protest events/movements are unable to influence parliamentary politics and achieve solid social change. Following their analysis, emotions are perceived as ‘means’ to mobilise people, in any other case emotions are considered as dangerous for deliberative democracy. However, these mobilisations were very passionate, emotional and popular, lasted for an extended period of time and attracted numerous participants on everyday basis. Hence, on the one hand, the above mobilisations challenge the perception of emotions as merely instrumental, and on the other hand, challenge the distinction between emotions/affect and reason.

This paper attempts to briefly present a critical reflection on the theoretical implications of the above two issues with concern contemporary social movement theory. The paper will argue that research of social action needs to go beyond the Cartesian division between emotion and reason, and also re-consider the perception of emotions as negative. Finally, the paper will provide evidence on the transformative and mobilising power of affect and emotions which derived from an ongoing empirical qualitative research on the case of the Greek Aganaktismenoi.

Guilt and Redemption During War and Divisions- The Case of the Vegan Movement

Sharon Avital

Tel-Aviv University, Israel

With over 13% of the population of Israel becoming vegan in the past five years, the campaign for veganism can be seen as one of the more successful campaigns in recent history. This transformation is especially puzzling due to the stagnation of political activism in Israel. This paper asks what enabled this massive transformation and identifies a few sociological and rhetorical elements: The immense protests against the establishment and corporate power of 2011 and the despair that followed their failure; The growing unrest in neighboring ME countries; The influence of popular new age practices such as yoga that promote a healthy life style and nonviolence; And, the successful exploitation of emotions, mainly guilt coupled with a heavy focus on the remedy offered for alleviating said guilt in the form of veganism.

Speakers and activists successfully framed animal suffering as “holocaust,” and “slavery” – terms reserved until recently for humans only. By doing so, they were able to transform conventional hierarchy in which man is superior to animal. Moreover, they were able to tag the same massive corporate power known as responsible for the erosion of the global middle class as responsible also for said “holocaust.” Consequently, the campaign evoked familiar feelings of anger and guilt but channeled them into action. People who were eager to act but frustrated with the local and global politics were able to single out clear evils and a just answer in the form of veganism.

Behind the visible: ‘normalization’ in the Republic of Cyprus

Vicky Karaiskou

Open University of Cyprus, Cyprus

This paper will focus on the interaction between visuals and language in public space. It will apply the concept of normalization in conjunction with the role recurrent images and written texts hold in collective memory and identity. It will use as case study the Republic of Cyprus and will focus on the visuality of collective memory – such as newspaper clips, memorials, signs, photographs, mottoes – in everyday life.

Visuality is a social construct inextricably linked to a certain cultural context. Foster described the term as the process of “how we see; how we are able, allowed, or made to see; and how we see this seeing or the unseen therein” (in Mirzoeff 2006, 55). Foucault, in The Order of Things points that we are “governed and paralysed by language” (1994, 297). Neuroscientists and psychologists underline the interrelations among memory, identity and images. They argue that our memory is “essentially reconstructive” (Damasio, 1994, 100) and susceptible to emotion (Dillon et al. 2007); that visual stimuli are more efficient than linguistic in creating reactions (Zajonc 1980); and are pivotal in memory-making process because they render experience tangible.

In the Republic of Cyprus ‘normalization’ is the result of the disciplinary power visuality holds. The paper will maintain that the manifestations of that visuality exploit collective memory and emotions; build identity awareness; support political rhetoric; cement official stances about us and justify the cultural barriers with the other; align perceptions and reassure participatory behaviors among the Greek Cypriots.

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