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Sociology 3308: Sociology of Emotions

Prof. J. Scott Kenney

Lecture 15: Emotion and Emotion Management 1: Hochschild on Emotions

Today we will begin moving away from the primarily structural models of emotion exemplified by theorists such as Kemper and Collins, and begin discussion of one of the major writers emphasizing a more cultural approach: Arlie Russell Hochschild.

Hochschild asserts that "As I see it, the sociology of emotions is a name for a body of work that articulates the links between cultural ideas, structural arrangement, and several things about feelings: the way we wish we felt, the way we try to feel, the way we feel, the way we show what we feel, and the way we pay attention to, label, and make sense of what we feel." In typical interactionist fashion, Hochschild sets the tone by asserting that "the sociology of emotions deepens theories about how people think or act," and, as such, "we are not simply adding a new dependent variable to the traditional roster."

Hochschild's work may be divided into four issues. First, she outlines three models of emotion. Next, she outlines what she calls her "interactional model" in relation to these. Third, she discusses the socioeconomic context and practical methods of what she terms “emotional labour” and “emotion management.” Finally, Hochschild describes her concepts of "expression rules" and "feeling rules," both of which are central to her idea of "emotion work."

Three Models of Emotion:

Hochschild begins by noting that there are three models of emotion current in the growing social science literature on emotion: (a) the organismic; (b) the interactional; and (c) the social constructionist. These models differ in how much significance they accord to social influence: the social constructionist accords most importance, the interactionist next most, and the organismic the least importance.

According to the organismic model (Charles Darwin, William James, Sigmund Freud), social influences enter in only to elicit feeling, and to regulate its expression. For Darwin, emotion is instinct, for James it is the perception of a psychological process, and for the early Freud it is libidinal discharge. By virtue of their stress on instinct and energy, the organismic theorists postulate a basic fixity of emotion and a basic similarity of emotion across categories of people. Secondly, in this model the manner in which we label, assess, manage or express emotion is seen as extrinsic to emotion, and therefore of less interest than how the emotion is motored by instinct. Third, in the organismic model emotion is assumed to have a prior existence apart from introspection, and introspection is thought to be passive, lacking in evocative power (i.e. emotions are there regardless of our thoughts about them). Finally, the organismic stress on instinctual fixity reflects an interest in the origins of emotion. It is argued that social factors merely “trigger” biological reactions and help steer the expression of these reactions into


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