Emotions and Cultural Theory

  • Eva Illouz
  • Daniel Gilon
  • Mattan Shachak
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


The current chapter deals with culture as both the causal framework and the terrain for the social life of emotions. We outline four major paths through which culture and emotions are related. First add:, the regulation of individual emotional experience and expression through social norms, the interconnection between individual emotional life and the socio-political structures, and the importance of culture in providing emotional ideologies, standards, vocabularies and rules. In addition, we deal with the production of emotional norms and the unintended emotional consequences of socio-cultural structures. Second, the relation between culture and emotions through the concepts of discourse and performance. Specifically, we deal with language as a shaper of reality; discourse and the definition of personhood; intra-cultural discourses and social context; and performativity of emotions.

Third, the collective processes in which emotions are produced in ritual forms. In this matter we deal with the co-production of emotions, moral order and culture in rituals, and we examine different views regarding emotions in micro interactions and changes in ritual forms and their relation to emotions in modernity. Finally, we deal with the status of emotions in culture that becomes saturated of communication technologies which give rise to new forms of sociability and emotionality. In this matter, we distinguish between “real”, fictional and virtual emotions and their technological settings of production. Then we discuss the range of emotional response that can be virtually produced and the problem of emotional expression in social media. We conclude by offering a framework for elaborating these theoretical approaches in future research.


Culture Social norms Discourse Ritual Fictional emotions Virtual emotions 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  • Eva Illouz
    • 1
  • Daniel Gilon
    • 1
  • Mattan Shachak
    • 1
  1. 1.Hebrew UniversityJerusalemIsrael

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