The emotions have traditionally been marginalized in mainstream social theory. This book demonstrates the problems that this has caused and charts the resurgence of emotions in social theory today. Drawing on a wide variety of sources, both classical and contemporary, Simon Williams treats the emotions as a universal feature of human life and our embodied relationship to the world. He reflects and comments upon the turn towards the body and intimacy in social theory, and explains what is important in current thinking about emotions. In his doing so, readers are provided with a critical assessment of various positions within the field, including the strengths and weaknesses of poststructuralism and postmodernism for examinin

Introduction: Why Emotions, Why Now?

Introduction: Why emotions, why now?

Banished to the margins of Western thought and practice, the ‘scandal’ of reason, emotions have enjoyed something of a reversal of fortunes in recent years. The ‘fractious child’ of modernity, emotions have truly come of age. The sociology of emotions, for example, is now a thriving sub-field of inquiry, the implications of which are slowly but surely permeating throughout the discipline as a whole. Key questions here include the following: What precisely are emotions? In what ways are emotions socially structured? What role does emotion play in the shaping of social structure itself? Do more differentiated societies produce a more ‘refined’ emotional vocabulary? And how might traditional divisions such as reason/emotion, mind/body themselves be rethought in ...

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