Emotion, Social Theory, and Social Structure: A Macrosociological Approach

Emotion, Social Theory, and Social Structure: A Macrosociological Approach

Emotion, Social Theory, and Social Structure: A Macrosociological Approach

Emotion, Social Theory, and Social Structure: A Macrosociological Approach

Synopsis

Emotion, Social Theory, and Social Structure takes sociology in a new direction. It examines key aspects of social structure by using a fresh understanding of emotions categories. Through that synthesis emerge new perspectives on rationality, class structure, social action, conformity, basic rights, and social change. As well as giving an innovative view of social processes, J. M. Barbalet's study also reveals unappreciated aspects of emotions by considering fear, resentment, vengefulness, shame, and confidence in the context of social structure. While much has been written on the social consequences of excessive or pathological emotions, this book demonstrates the centrality of emotions to routine operations of social interaction. Dr Barbalet also re-evaluates the nature of social theory, for once the importance of emotions to social processes becomes clear, the intellectual constitution of sociology, and therefore its history, must be rethought.

Excerpt

Two things are attempted in this book. First, key aspects of social structure are examined through the development and application of emotions categories. Thus rationality, class structure, social action, social conformity, basic rights, and social change are considered through discussion of a particular emotion or set of emotions which both characteristically pertains to each of them and elucidates the processes to which each is subject. Second, the development and application of emotions categories to the analysis of social-structural components are used in the refinement and elaboration of sociological theory.

The dual interests of understanding social structure and enriching sociological theory have always been central in sociology. Less frequently have endeavors to achieve these aims been attempted through a focus on emotion. Emotion is not readily thought of as a category which either belongs in or has anything important to offer sociology. Nevertheless, the following chapters will show that emotions terms can be developed in and applied to the analysis of social structure. They will also show that theorizing which offers a central place to emotions categories risks nothing of its sociological character.

But any conclusions which are drawn from these chapters must be made in light of their intentions, and therefore of the limits on what they attempt to achieve. While it is not an author's place to prime the critics, although all authors do that unintentionally and inadvertently, I do want to indicate some of the things not attempted in this book.

One obvious omission, which some readers may regret, is a full statement of a general theory of emotion. This absence is fully intended. There are some robust theories of emotion, and parts of my discussion are obviously informed by certain of them. Of the sociological theories of emotion in general, Kemper's (1978) stands out as the most influential on my own work. In two chapters, chapters 5 and 7, his social interactional theory of emotions is addressed explicitly with a view to extending it. But these extensions are with regard to particular emotions, not the overall . . .

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