Call for Papers: 4th Midterm Conference of the ESA Sociology of Emotions Research Network, Berlin, 2012



This call for the upcoming 4th  midterm conference of the Sociology of Emotions Research Network within  the  European  Sociological  Association  is  addressed  to  both sociologists  and historians and aims at stimulating fruitful debates about emotions across these two disciplines. The midterm conference will be housed jointly by the Max Planck Institute for Human Develop – ment, Center for the History of Emotions and the Cluster “Languages of Emotion” at Freie Universität (FU), both situated in Berlin. It will take place between the 11th  and 13th/14th  of Octo- ber, 2012.

Although all high quality abstracts  on any emotion-highlighting  topic will  be given  serious consideration, the organizing committee identifiied several focal areas of investigation in which abstracts are particularly welcome. These areas cover current developments of great social impact as well as questions of superior scientifiic importance.

At this point one special shared session is envisioned for which speakers will be invited

Special Plenary Session: Theoretical Explorations

In this session speakers with diverse disciplinary backgrounds will offer an overview of the research on emotions in their respective fields. But the primary objective is not to take stock of existing research. Rather the session will aim at exploring needs and possibilities for theoretical advances in the future. To this end participants are invited to compare theoretical approaches within  and across  academic  disciplines,  to identify  gaps  in existing  research  agendas and  to ponder ways of moving into new terrains.  What  can we say about intentions  and discourses driving various research agendas—are they still inspiring or have they turned into obstacles to further development? Is a new thrust in theorizing badly needed to counterbalance a plethora of unrelated empirical studies?

Regular Sessions:

Specific Emotions: Even as the sociology of emotions was emerging and the concept of emotion management  acquired  great  visibility,  critics  argued that  one needs  to take  time  to explore different, specific emotions. To date this critique has not entirely lost its validity, despite some notable exceptions. Other disciplines may have explored different emotions to some extent, but this either has not made its way into sociological analysis or takes the form of armchair speculations about specific emotions and is of little use for social analysis. In this session we welcome abstracts that explore the nature of specific emotions with a keen eye on making such conceptualizations fruitful for theoretical or empirical social analysis. Abstracts should focus on ways to explore specific emotions, such as, for example, solidarity, hate, mistrust, compassion or sympathy, etc.

Emergence and Reproduction of Groups and Collectivities: Much has been said on emotions binding groups and collectivities by the classics of sociology, but their contributions have not yet led to a coherent research  agenda. In a transnational  world the question  should  be addressed anew in what ways and by what means groups and collectivities emerge and become sustained, paying particular attention to the role of emotions and emotionally grounded stereotyping in this process.  What is  the contribution of sports,  mass media,  culture,  art, education  or politics  to evoking  and sustaining  emotions  that in turn generate  small  group and larger  collective  life? Which of their specifiic traits evoke collectivity-generating emotions? Do they evoke similar or different emotions? Do they have the same or different size publics? Is there a division of labor between them or do they perhaps compete  or even undermine  each other? In a transnational context, what is their emotion-laden contribution to reminding of, reporting on, creating, competing  with,  loving and/or hating  ‘the other’—whether situated  among ‘us’  or across  the border(s)?

Emotions and Civic Action:::: Research on protest and social movements  has become a large and well-established fiield. On a smaller scale the focus on emotions in social movements  has equally gained acceptance. However, emotions also move individuals to become involved in other forms of collective projects that are typically not understood as social movements, such as volunteerism, charity, benevolence, NGOs, the third sector, etc. There is a dearth of sociological research that maps the emotions relevant to non-protest-related collective efforts and investigates how emotions function for these endeavors. Such explorations would also help us defiine differences and similarities between social movements and other forms of civic action and organizing. We invite abstracts that focus on these issues and deal with such questions as : which emotion signify in different forms of civic action, how do they sustain for instance volunteerism, charity, NGOs, etc. over time and how may they lead to demise ? How do they contribute to shifts from one form of civic action to another, such as protest ? What are the potentials of different emotional bases for degrees of politicization ? Are there some emotions which are specifiically mobilized in this context to frame the actions (such as pity for charity) ?

Protest:: How have forms of protest changed in Western and non-Western societies? Demonstra – tions were  a relative  novelty in the  1960s in Western  Europe and the  US  after the largely conformist  post  WWII-era.  Today  as a form of protest  they are  widely  accepted,  having  lost much of their contesting symbolic force. Are new powerful forms of contestation emerging? Has face-to-face   criticism   become  more   challenging   and  emotionally   demanding?   Is  the  Oc- cupy-Movement offering anything new in terms of emotions  and  as a protest form? Can any special  emotions  be linked  to demonstrations  as compared to the Occupy-movement? Protest waves such as the  worker  demonstrations/sit-ins  of the  1960s in Western  Europe, solidarity movements, anti-colonial  liberation  movements, the ‘velvet’  revolutions  in Central  Europe in

1989, and the Arab  Spring  in 2011/2012  have exemplified  emotion-laden  novelties,  each  in a different region at a different time. What are their commonalities, what are the differences concerning emotional regimes and emotions they have called for? How does the changing role of the media impact on emotional processes in social movements? What difference does it make in terms of emotions that recent protest movements were very much stimulated and organized by the internet and internet-based social networks? And in the context of transnationalization: what does it mean if emotions “travel”? Is there a national difference in their expression?

Body and Space: By now many agree that it is important to study embodied emotions in space. Whether  we  take a Foucauldian  perspective  or investigate  what professionals  do when they work, we are struck by how practices and discourses create embodied emotions in various spatial bodies-artifacts-constellations. How can analysis of the interaction between emotional patterns and spatial settings further our understanding of social and economic dynamics? What role does the body and its being structured by dichotomies like healthy/ill, normal/deviant, rational/irra – tional or superior/inferior  play for these  processes?  What concepts  and terms are  useful  and revealing when analyzing these processes? Should we, for instance, refer to emotions as embodied thoughts, as a specific emotional habitus, distinguishing between affects, feelings and/or emotions? Or should we look for other conceptual tools?

Visuals: In this session speakers will share their knowledge about the visuals and the analytical tools that can be used to focus on the emotions they present to their viewers. How should we analyze it? Which theoretical approaches from other disciplines (as for example art history or fiilm studies) can we use? How do they inspire or limit our focus? How can we combine visual analysis with the analysis of discourses? What is the role of precedents, contextualization, historicization? Are there historically or culturally specifiic ways of forging links between emotions and visual representations? How does one move between protest, popular culture and the classics in art?

Law: An emerging argument has it that even an alleged mainstay of rationality, namely law, has paid increasing attention to emotional patterns and practices. Firstly, emotions have been evaluated as extenuating circumstances in criminal sentences. Secondly, with the tendency to widen the court-room into a space for social negotiations, the emotions of the victims gained in importance.  And thirdly,  legislators  and  courts  increasingly  considered  community- or gen- der-specific emotional standards when defiining rules, e.g. in family law, or when judging certain behaviors.  What strategies  and for what purposes  were and are  emotions  evoked  in  judicial contexts?  How were specifiic  trials  emotionalized  to fight  for other (political)  agendas?  Is  it possible  to identify  a  general  emotionalization  of the  judicial  sphere?  And  how are  these processes linked to other developments like a general tendency to see emotions from a therapeutic angle? Can scrutinizing these questions further our understanding of the changing role of law within modern societies?

Finance:  Since  the late  1980s ethnographers, sociologists  and historians  have researched  open outcry trading floors, trading rooms and investment banks. These studies often failed to expand their field of vision beyond the immediate observation area. If at all, they only inadvertently paid attention to emotions. Recurring speculation, economic and financial crises call for a more critical take on the financial world and the assumption that economic actors – or markets – are rational or that individually  rational  action  will  create  collective  goods.  In which ways  do emotions inform market developments  and the emergence  of specific  economic  cultures?  And how do these in turn evoke emotions? How were practices of actors in the field of economics driven by emotions?  How can we  use emotions  as category to explain  cumulative  processes/snow  ball effects in these field? What can we learn from studying such interactions beyond the assertion that markets sometimes function “irrationally”?

Post-Atrocities Emotions: In the past two-three decades resurgence in idealism, calling on societies split by violent conflicts to pursue truth, justice and reconciliation (often cast as a preconditions for making a transition to democracy), has re-asserted itself. Both transnationally and in each of the societies whose members had taken part in atrocities, there are attempts to formulate rules for  which  emotions  are  prescribed  and  which  are  proscribed.  Contributions are  welcome highlighting in a critical way these emotional regimes and the vested interests behind them. How are emotions and emotional practices used and negotiated in order to come to terms with what has happened, to castigate perpetrators or to heal and forgive? This might also relate to explorations into the emotional dimensions of trauma.

Researching Emotions Empirically: Even though sociological and historical analyses of emotions have by now enjoyed  a history of several decades and despite the more recent proliferation of emotion research, there is a dearth of methodological frameworks for investigating emotions empirically. We ask for contributions that develop and critically reflect such frameworks. Specific issues  could include:  how can researchers  deal  with their  own emotions  within the analysis? How can  one delineate  an  emotional  culture  empirically?  How can  one approach  emotions within a transnational  analysis? How can different approaches to empirical  research  inform a focus on emotions? How would they have to be tweaked?

Emotions and Power: Although both power and emotion are essential features of the conduct and constitution of social life, research on these two phenomena—whatever their conceptual guises—has tended to run in parallel, without explicitly engaging the other. It seems to us that the time is ripe for exploring the connections between these two fundaments of society. To this end we would like to invite submissions that address both, either empirically or theoretically. We are particularly interested in papers that seek to investigate the interrelated role that both power and emotions  play in specific  arenas  or around specific  topics.  For example,  papers  that  address emotions and power in organisations, in social movements, in politics, in media, in welfare and warfare, in families, in education and so on, are especially sought, though submissions are not limited  to these  fields  of inquiry.  Papers  addressing  emotions,  power  and  gender  are  also particularly welcome.

Abstracts  not  exceeding  300  words  should  be sent  by  the  1st  of  May   2012  to  Jochen Kleres Please send your abstract indicating whether it is for a specific session listed above. Notifications about the abstracts selected for presentation at the midterm conference will be made by mid-July 2012 at the latest. Also conference fees, more precise conference times, and links to accommodation will be announced  in July—but please note that Berlin offers a wide range of accommodation opportunities, including many B&Bs, smaller and large apartments to rent as well as no-money-involved arrangements. The conference venues are:

Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Lentzeallee 94, 141195 Berlin, and Cluster of Excellence “Languages of Emotion”, Habelschwerdter Allee 45, 141195 Berlin.

The organizing committee:

Helena Flam

Benno Gammerl

Bettina Hitzer

Jochen Kleres

Anja Laukötter

Christian von Scheve


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