Classes and Emotions: Making Room for Emotions in Stratification Studies


DOI: 10.16917/sd.43142

OnlineFirst published on September 20, 2016

Year: 2016 Vol: 36 Number: 1


Class studies have currently evolved from economy-based approaches to studies that focus on culture, lifestyle, and tastes and have gained a broader perspective in scope and depth. The reasons behind these broader perspectives not only include some economic transformations, such as the shift from production to consumption and the emergence of service industry but also the insufficiency of classical explanations due to the proliferation of inequalities in many different fields, such as gender, race, and social belonging. In this sense, emotions and moral motives represent the factors that continue to be overlooked by stratification analyses that have actually been deepened through the consideration of culture, habits, and tastes. Keeping emotions in sight, generally in sociology and particularly in stratification studies, reveals a deeper dimension of social groups, classes, and strata. No matter to what class individuals belong, their participation in the order of valuable objects and symbols through some quests is fundamentally motivated by the desire to find respect, dignity, and a valuable life. Additionally, the emotional states that are created by inequalities, and may or may not have a moral dimension, should be regarded as new capitals specific to social strata and habitus perpetuated by the members of these strata. In other words, these “deeper” emotional habitus, which generally require a tedious examination, represent a novel and significant way of understanding a class or a social stratum with its members’ behavioral patterns and expectations. In particular, if we think of the centrality of conspicuous consumption in the current society, the desire to enjoy certain esthetical values and tastes, which represent a certain economic level or status, will inevitably trigger certain emotions. This study treats the importance of the emotional dimension, which is ignored in the analysis of the interaction among the social strata, attempts to determine the reasons and process of this neglect, and eventually examines the relation of strata and emotions as resources through the sample of shame, anger, and envy.

Class • Stratification • Sociology of emotions • Emotional habitus • Shame • Anger • Envy

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