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Chapter 3 EMOTIONAL ENERGY AND THE TRANSIENT EMOTIONS EMOTION IS A central ingredient and outcome of IRs. It is time now to examine emotions more closely. Among other benefits of doing so is to highlight the contribution that sociology of emotions makes to macrosociological theory. And we shall see, via a circuitous route, the emotion -laden view of macro-sociological structure and hence of the place of individuals within it will give us some leads for a sociological theory of differences in personality. Emotion implicitly occupies a crucial position in general sociological theory. As we attempt to make sociological concepts more precise and more empirically grounded, we find that many of the most important rest to a considerable extent upon emotional processes. Durkheim raised the central question of sociology: What holds society together ? His answer is the mechanisms that produce moral solidarity; and these mechanisms, I have argued, do so by focusing, intensifying, and transforming emotions. Parsonian sociology, which took the most reified, agentless side of Durkheim, put the argument in equivalent terms: society is held together by values. But values, to the extent that they exist (and leaving open the issue of how far they are shared, and under what conditions), are cognitions infused with emotion. On the conflict side of sociological theory, Weber’s central concepts also imply emotion: the legitimacy that underlies stable power, the status group ranking by which stratification permeates everyday life, the religious worldviews that motivated some crucial periods of economic action. When we attempt to translate any of these concepts into observables, it is apparent that we are dealing with particular kinds of emotions. Marx and Engels are perhaps furthest away from theorizing about emotional processes: in their analysis, everything is structural (even alienation, which for Marx is an ontological relationship, not a psychological one). But it is apparent that in Marxian analyses of class mobilization and class conflict, emotion must play a part—whether it is the mutual distrust within fragmented classes that keeps them from mobilizing , or the solidarity that dominant classes have and that oppressed classes acquire only in revolutionary situations. In these respects, EMOTIONAL ENERGY 103 Marx and Engels’s conflict theory comes close to a dynamic version of Durkheim’s themes. The sociology of emotions thus bears upon the central questions of sociology. What holds a society together—the “glue” of solidarity— and what mobilizes conflict—the energy of mobilized groups—are emotions; so is what operates to uphold stratification—hierarchical feelings, whether dominant, subservient, or resentful. If we can explain the conditions that cause people to feel these kinds of emotions, we will have a major part of a core sociological theory. There is, of course, a structural part of such a theory, and a cognitive part; but the emotional part gives us something essential for a realistic theory—its dynamics .1 These classic sociological theories implicitly concern emotions, but they do not usually refer to them explicitly. This is because our theories have a macro-primacy, or at least deal with social life at a level of considerable abstraction and aggregation. We are told of something called “legitimacy,” and of “values,” floating somewhere in a conceptual sky beyond the heads of real people in ordinary situations. If we attempt a micro-translation of sociology—not a micro-reduction, but a grounding of macro-concepts in real interactions across the macro-dimensions of time and space—we are led to see the importance of emotional processes . In other words, the micro-translation of macro-concepts yields emotion. For the most part, this is not what most micro-theories have stressed. Mead and symbolic interactionism emphasize process, emergence, and cognition; Schutz and phenomenology emphasize routine and cognition ; exchange theory emphasizes behaviors and payoffs; expectation states theory again stresses cognition. Emotion of course could be brought into these theories, but it is central to none of them.2 On the other hand, there is a burgeoning field of sociology of emotions, but until recently it has been largely treated as a specialized enclave, cut off from general issues of sociology.3 But several prominent versions of microsociology do not have to be pressed very far to yield the central micro-dynamics of emotion as a social process—a process that will serve to unpack the macro-sociological issues mentioned at the outset. One of these is Garfinkel’s ethnomethodology. At first sight, it seems to be pitched on a different level. With its concern for the construction of mundane...


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