Emotions and Social Relations
Social and Political Sciences Seminar
In this talk Professor Burkitt will outline the basic ideas from his latest book, Emotions and Social Relations (Sage, 2014), in which he examines emotions as relational phenomena in the sense meant in Emirbayer’s relational sociology – with regard to emotions, that means they are not to be thought of in substantialist terms as individual entities (behavioural responses or cognitive representations) but are to do with the relations between people, and it is only in this relational context that emotions have sense and meaning.
He will then outline some of the theoretical background to this, particularly in terms of an aesthetic understanding of emotions based in the work of William James and John Dewey, where emotion is seen as embodied experience and the making of meaning in relation to a social context and to other people or things in that context. It is only with this reference point that we can experience and then attempt to name what emotion or feeling we are having at that point in time. Without the bodily experience of emotion, we would not feel that emotion: and yet there are also other elements of emotional experience too, such as reflection (or reflexivity) in naming emotion and feeling, and the social and cultural factors that are involved in constructing this meaningful experience. In this sense emotions are, in his view, complex phenomena, composed of different elements (the bodily, the cognitive, and the social) yet reducible to no single element (as in substantialist approaches). These are the central ideas that he will expand upon in this talk.
Speaker biography: Ian Burkitt is Professor of Social Identity at the University of Bradford where he teaches sociology and social psychology. His research interests are in the area of social theory, theories of identity and embodiment, and the social and psychological understanding of feelings and emotions. In his work he has pioneered a relational understanding of the self and of emotions, and future projects include the application of this approach to the understanding of agency. He is the author of Bodies of Thought: Embodiment, Identity and Modernity (Sage, 1999), Social Selves: Theories of Self and Society (2nd Edition, Sage 2008), and Emotions and Social Relations (Sage, 2014).
Please note this event starts at 4pm, not 6pm as previously advertised.