Paper short abstract:
Anthropological studies of emotion have dwindled in recent years. In this paper, I propose a re-ignition of theoretical considerations of emotion through a discussion of findings from ethnography amongst Compers: the serial entrants of promotional competitions.
Paper long abstract:
As Beatty (2013) has chronicled, the study of emotion has fallen out of favour with anthropologists. This trend has been explained in terms of a prevailing distaste for investigation into the "individual" in favour of power and political relations as well as an overlap with psychology and hence a sense that it is not our domain (Ibid, p.415). We may add that the affective turn, which has emphasized forces and intensities, has engulfed emotion within its wide and varied remit.
In an attempt to distinguish emotion from affect, I will present findings from ethnography amongst "Compers", the serial entrants of promotional competitions. From the "thrills" of actual and anticipated wins of holidays, cars, products and cash, to the joy and pride experienced in using and sharing prizes, it is evident that emotion figures heavily into the practice of entering promotional competitions (otherwise known as comping). To this end, in this paper I will describe how Compers experience emotion, but also how these emotions are influenced, by advertising as well as social and cultural forces. By accounting for the role of emotions in motivating the practice of comping, I will propose that emotion is distinct from affect, but further, that emotion is important in the reconstitution of capitalist practices. This idea is well established in literature related to marketing (Foster 2007) and within marketing (Gaur et. al 2014) but has hereto only been a latent consideration in ethnographies of consumption (Friedman 1994; Miller 1998, 2008; Suzuki 2000)