Title

The power of feeling: Locating emotions in culture

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date

11-2002

Journal Title

European Journal of Cultural Studies

Volume

5

Issue

4

DOI

10.1177/1364942002005004294

Abstract

Within cultural studies, there has been little detailed investigation of emotions as part of everyday personal, cultural and political life. In this article, we argue the need for a cultural studies approach to emotions that focuses in detail on: how emotions are constituted, experienced and managed; what is culturally permissible for specific categories of subjects to express as part of their constitution within contemporary power relations; and the techniques and contexts in and through which the emotional subject is produced. We develop an analytical framework based on a critical review of, first, Michel Foucault's analyses of modern power, discourse and the formation of subjectivity (focusing on `technologies of power' and `technologies of self'), second, Alison Jaggar's conceptualization of `emotional hegemony' and, third, Raymond Williams's conceptualization of `structure of feeling'. We apply this framework to specific examples to demonstrate how emotions might participate in the reproduction of culture, subjectivity and power relations. Here, we discuss the unexpected and extensive public outpourings of grief following the death of Diana, Princess of Wales, and media and government responses to these. We also look at the ways in which diaries/day planners may be used to provide a structure not only for appointments, but also for feelings — registering and managing individual emotional states — and self-construction. In each of these examples, we consider how `the emotions', as a category of experience, might be implicated in negotiations of the (hierarchically arranged) public/private divide.

Related Pillar(s)

Study