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21. Emotions and Social Life

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Chapter Summary

Emotions are the central force that binds together individual self-perceptions, social interactions, and broader elements of culture and social structure. As emotions are so broadly interwoven through social life, theoretical research programs in the sociology of emotions have taken several different routes to studying them. These can be grouped by the degree to which they emphasize culture, social structure, cognition, behavior and interaction, and biology. Most theoretical and empirical work on the relationship between social structure and emotions is decidedly micro, examining the dynamics of status processes in interpersonal encounters and small groups. The larger meso- and macro-level structures in which virtually all groups and encounters are embedded are given much less emphasis, even though much of the culture affecting emotional arousal comes from these larger-scale structures. The study of culture, social structure, and interpersonal behavior constitute the core of sociology.

Keywords: cognitive process; emotion culture; human emotions; social life; social structure

10.1163/9789004266179_051
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