Affect and Emotion in Social Movement Research

Patricia G Steinhoff (University of Hawaii)
Patricia G Steinhoff
Barbara Holthus
Anthropology and Sociology
Bloco 1, Piso 1, Sala 1.11
Start time:
2 September, 2017 at 9:00
Session slots:

Short abstract:

The panel examines research in which emotion plays an important role. Sensitivity to emotion becomes the foundation for analyzing the emotional dynamics of social interaction. The studies concern emotions such as fear, shame, and anger that are evoked in specific cultural and social contexts.

Long abstract:

This panel examines field research on social movements in which the researcher's sensitivity to affect and emotion becomes the foundation for analysis of emotional dynamics in social interaction. Affect is expressed and perceived through body posture, body tension, gestures, facial expressions, speech style, language usage, code switching, and nonverbal cues. A researcher sensitive to such clues may observe and elicit further evidence of emotional dimensions that underlie the participants' perspectives on the situation. Affect can be missed completely by a researcher who is not able to perceive it or is focusing on other elements. Conversely, affect can be felt and noticed but not pursued further because the study follows a different research question and theoretical framework. Following affect clues once they are noticed is a choice that a researcher makes, which can lead to deeper analysis of interaction in specific contexts and new research perspectives. Three papers will consider how the researcher perceives affect in the field situation, how it is explored further, and then how it becomes a key part of the analysis. Kotona Motoyama's paper examines the emotional dynamics of "coming out" as family members of a gay or lesbian person in public (soto) versus private (uchi) settings. YĆ«ki Asahina's paper analyzes the fear and sense of threat that underlies contemporary radical right activism in Japan, and links it to both a broader discourse in Japan and to similar phenomena in other countries. Patricia Steinhoff examines the social and emotional costs of providing social support to political prisoners in Japan, focusing both on interactions with the prisoner and the supporter's broader social milieu. The discussion will examine correspondences among the papers and bring out methodological and analytical issues involved in doing such research. This panel will emphasize how sensitivity to affect and emotion may lead the researcher in new directions. One further aim is to give researchers the confidence to explore the elusive clues of affect and emotion and to see how they can contribute to creative new analyses.