Emotional Deviance and New Emotional Reality
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This chapter presents the results of the empirical investigation into online bereavement communities of women who suffered perinatal loss. It reveals interactional mechanisms underlying the process of identity loss, and the search for ontological groundings of new social identity. Identity loss is triggered by exclusionary practices from the women’s communities of origin—which, in turn, are experienced as negating the reality of their grieving and their right to experience, and manifest, suffering. Consequently, these women are compelled to search for new communities where their experiences are recognized, and a new identity corresponding with their feelings is reclaimed. This new membership, it is argued, allows for their suffering to obtain an ontologically grounded status of reality which legitimizes their emotional suffering. The data reveals how, during digital interactions, the women joining these online groups undergo dynamics of inter-evaluative practices via affective sanctioning mechanisms which generate an inter-alignment of their differing subjective accounts of perinatal loss. This results in the establishment of a new conception of motherhood signified by the emergence of the categories of Angel baby and Angels’ mother. Around these categories an emotional ‘life-world’ develops as a new ethnopsychology of motherhood, idiosyncratic to these online communities.
KeywordsOnline bereavement communities Digital ethnography Digital sociology Affective sanctioning Ethnopsychology Grief
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