Contemporary sociological accounts of social movements are mainly influenced by the new American paradigm' (crossley) arguing that social actors are rational calculators. According to these sociologists, emotions associated with irrationality are opposed to knowledge linked with rationality. It could be said that sociological accounts are neglecting the importance of emotions in the analysis of social movements. Emotions can be positive such as joy, or negative like anger. Jasper divides emotions between affect (hatred, love, solidarity, suspicion or trust), reactions (shame, anger, outrage) or moods (chronic and recurring feelings without direct object : compression, depression, defiance, pride enthusiasm). These emotions can have bodily symptoms and can be experienced inside or outside a social movement. Social movements can be considered as collective group seeking to protest and change some aspects of a society such as women's movements or green's movement. Sociological accounts intending to understand the dynamics and properties of social movements seemed focused on emotions with the collective behaviour approach but since the 1960s/1970s, the new American paradigm is a counter revolution as far as emotions are concerned. It can be asked if sociologists are not neglecting the role displayed by emotions in social movements' dynamics.
[...] Feeling experienced outside a social movement such as racial prejudice but also inside the movement such as solidarity or ‘libinal economy' can shape the social movement trajectory. Goodwin uses the term libinal economy to describe pleasures and feelings experienced inside social movements. Sociological accounts refer to emotion as central to understand social movements also because social movements can try to change feelings of their members. For instance, consciousness raising groups in women movement in the 1960s tried to relieve women from their feeling of guilty. The main focus of recent sociological account as far as emotions are concerned is anger. [...]
[...] To use Jasper words a threat of irrationality has prevented students of social movements from incorporating emotions into their models, the time has come to rethink this stance' 152) Bibliography - Nick Crossley (2002) : Making sense of social movements. - Deborah B. Gould (2004) : ‘Passionate political processes : bringing emotion back into study of social movements' in Goodwin and Jasper (eds.) : Rethinking social movements : structure meaning and emotion. - Helena Flam (2004) : Anger in repressive regimes a footnote to Domination and the Arts of Resistance by James Scott', European Journal of Social Theory 171-88. [...]
[...] Indeed, sociological account has to be criticized for a lack of attention paid to emotions in social movements study because it is only trying to build narrow model focused on the emergence, decline and outcomes of a social movement. (Gould). Moreover, because these frameworks to study social movements seem to work, sociologists are not exploring new possibilities, ‘when a paradigm works well, alternatives to its main assumption cannot even be imagined' (Gould, p). Moreover, contemporary sociological research on social movements dominated by the rational actors models. [...]
[...] Gould (year) is also calling for a reintroduction of emotions in social movement's study because it can open a new landscape for social movements research and new movements understudied could be examined. These sociologists do believe in the important role displayed by emotions as far as social movements are concerned. After having emphasized that new sociologists are interested in emotions, let us study more in detail their accounts to show that they cannot be criticized for an ignorance of emotions. [...]
[...] As a consequence, part of the data available about social movements is ignored by some sociologist. For instance, data of social movements' actors explaining their feeling and motivations are omitted because they cannot fit in the models. Sociologists of the RAT could not explain the motivations of demonstrators of Act up during the ‘Ashes actions' in 1992 because they were emotionally charged and therefore considered as irrational (Deborah B. Gould). Sociological account can indeed be criticized for omitting emotions and thinking social actors as dispassionate and cognitive people not influenced by any feelings. [...]
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