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SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND EMOTIONS

Ian Burkitt
Sociology
Vol. 31, No. 1 (FEBRUARY 1997), pp. 37-55
Published by: Sage Publications, Ltd.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/42855768
Page Count: 19
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SOCIAL RELATIONSHIPS AND EMOTIONS
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Abstract

In this article I propose a relational understanding of emotions which I believe overcomes many of the dualisms in previous sociological attempts to understand this realm of social life. I also suggest that it is rare in such studies for the object under scrutiny to be defined, and attempt to answer the question of what it is we are exploring when we approach emotions. The view is put forward of emotions as complexes rather than things, ones that are multi-dimensional in their composition: they only arise within relationships, but they have a corporeal, embodied aspect as well as a socio-cultural one. They are constituted by techniques of the body learned within a social habitus, which produces emotional dispositions that may manifest themselves in particular situations. Furthermore, these techniques of the body are part of the power relations that play an important part in the production and regulation of emotion. Using examples of emotions like love and aggression, I argue my central thesis – that emotions are not expressions of inner processes, but are modes of communication within relationships and interdependencies.

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