Happiness and Perseverance: The Interplay of Emotional Energies in Gray Dancing

  • Satu HeikkinenEmail author
  • Eva Alfredsson-Olsson
Part of the Leisure Studies in a Global Era book series (LSGE)


Perseverance has been deemed as a precondition of flow and serious leisure. Less is known about what generates perseverance in leisure activities. This chapter is aimed at exploring perseverance by focusing on social dancing among older people. The theoretical framework is primarily based on Hochschild’s and Collins’ emotion theories. Qualitative interviews with older dancers were analysed. The results suggest that both positive and negative emotions play an important role in shaping perseverance and the overall emotion of happiness in dancing. Successful interaction rituals create positive emotions and positive emotional energy. However, challenges are of importance as the negative emotions created can contribute to negative emotional energy which makes the interviewees endure hardships. The chapter contributes to research discussions about the role of emotions in leisure.


  1. Alfredsson-Olsson, E., & Heikkinen, S. (2019). “I will never quit dancing”. The emotional experiences of social dancing among older persons. Journal of Aging Studies, 51(Dec.).
  2. Andersson, G. (1991). Folkets park. En hundraårig historia [The Folk Park. A history of hundreds years]. Gidlunds förlag.Google Scholar
  3. Barbalet, J. M. (1996). Social emotions: Confidence, trust and loyalty. International Journal of Sociology and Social Policy, 16(9/10), 75–96.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Bericat, E. (2016). The sociology of emotions: Four decades of progress. Current Sociology, 64(3), 491–513.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  5. Berman, S. (2011). Social democracy and the creation of public interest. Critical Review, 23(3), 237–256.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Bloch, C. (2000). Flow: Beyond fluidity and rigidity. A phenomenological investigation. Human Studies, 23(1), 43–61.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Bloch, C. (2001). Flow og stress—Stemninger og følelseskultur i hverdagslivet [Flow and stress—Moods and emotional cultures in everyday life]. Copenhagen: Samfundslitteratur.Google Scholar
  8. Boyns, D., & Luery, S. (2015). Negative emotional energy: A theory of the “Dark-Side” of interaction ritual chains. Social Sciences, 4(1), 148–170.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Bramsen, I., & Poder, P. (2014). Theorizing three basic emotional dynamics of conflicts: A situational research agenda. Peace Research, 46(2), 51–86.Google Scholar
  10. Brinkman, S., & Kvale, S. (2015). InterViews: Learning the craft of qualitative research interviewing. Los Angeles: Sage Publications.Google Scholar
  11. Brown, C. A., McGuire, F., & Voelkl, J. (2008). The link between successful aging and serious leisure. International Journal of Aging and Human Development, 66, 73–95.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. Collins, R. (1990). Stratification, emotional energy and the transient emotions. In T. Kemper (Ed.), Research agendas in the sociology of emotions. Albany: State University of New York Press.Google Scholar
  13. Collins, R. (2004). Interaction ritual chains. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Connor, M. (2000). Recreational folk dance: A multicultural exercise component in healthy ageing. Australian Occupational Therapy Journal, 47, 69–76.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Cooley, C. H. (1902/1972). The looking glass self. J. In J. Manis & A. Meltzer (Eds.), Symbolic interaction: A reader in social psychology (pp. 231–233). Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.Google Scholar
  16. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1975/2000). Beyond boredom and anxiety: Experiencing flow in work and play. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.Google Scholar
  17. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1988). Introduction. In M. Csikszentmihalyi & I. Csikszentmihalyi (Eds.), Optimal experience: Psychological studies of flow in consciousness (pp. 3–15). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  18. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1990). Flow: The psychology of optimal experience. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  19. Csikszentmihalyi, M. (1997). Finding flow: The psychology of engagement with everyday life. New York: Basic Books.Google Scholar
  20. Elkington, S. (2011). What it is to take the flow of leisure seriously. Leisure/Loisir, 35(3), 253–282.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. Elsaway, B., & Higgins, K. E. (2010). Physical activity guidelines for older adults. Am Fam Physician, 81(1, Jan.), 55–59.Google Scholar
  22. Hammersley, M., & Atkinson, P. (1995). Ethnography. Principles in practice. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  23. Hochschild, A. R. (1983). The managed heart. Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  24. Kemper, T. D. (1978). A social interactional theory of emotions. New York: Wiley.Google Scholar
  25. Keogh, J. W. L., Kildin, A., Pidgeon, P., Ashley, L., & Gillis, D. (2009). Physical benefits of dancing for healthy older adults: A review. Journal of Aging and Physical Activity, 17, 1–23.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Krekula, C., Arvidson, M., Heikkinen, S., Henriksson, A., & Olsson, E. (2017). On gray dancing: Constructions of age-normality through choreography and temporal codes. Journal of Aging Studies, 42, 38–45.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  27. Lamdin, L. S., & Fugate, M. (1997). Elderlearning: New frontier in an aging society. R&L Education.Google Scholar
  28. Lee, C., & Payne, L. L. (2016). Experiencing flow in different types of serious leisure in later life. World Leisure Journal, 58(3), 163–178.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mead, G. H. (1934). Mind, self and society. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  30. Paulson, S. (2009). An exploration of how various ‘cultures of dance’ construct experiences of health and growing older. Diss., City University London, London.Google Scholar
  31. Scheff, T. (2000). Shame and the social bond: A sociological theory. Sociological Theory, 18(1), 84–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Shen, X. S., & Yarnal, C. (2010). Blowing open the serious leisure-casual leisure dichotomy: What’s in there? Leisure Sciences, 32(2), 162–179.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  33. Starrin, B., & Jeffner Starrin, L. (2013). Hela Sverige dansar [The whole Sweden is dancing]. Karlstad: Starrin Press.Google Scholar
  34. Stebbins, R. A. (1992). Amateurs, professionals, and serious leisure [Electronic book]. McGill-Queen’s University Press.Google Scholar
  35. Stebbins, R. A. (2001). New directions in the theory and research of serious leisure. New York: The Edwin Mellen Press..Google Scholar
  36. Stebbins, R. A. (2006, November). Leisure studies: The happy science. LSA Newsletter.Google Scholar
  37. Stebbins, R. A. (2012). The idea of leisure: First principles. New Brunswick, NJ: Transaction.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2020

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Karlstad UniversityKarlstadSweden

Personalised recommendations