SOC344 2018 Tut3 – Mon 14.30pm

When was the last time you felt something ambiguous? A feeling that you couldn’t name? Was it perhaps a mixture of two, three, or many other more familiar emotions? Are there basic emotions that everyone feels and understands? The evidence seems to suggest that there are at least four to six universal basic emotions, based on Paul Ekman’s analysis of facial expressions across cultures. These have a genetic basis, and are experienced by all humans. The great majority of emotions seem to be more complex amalgams of these basic emotions. Indeed, in 1980, the psychologist Robert Plutchik developed a fascinating ‘colour wheel’ of emotions to depict the various possible combinations and intensities of basic emotions and their resulting ‘complex emotions’.

However, many of the psychological studies into basic and complex emotions do not account for the inherently social way in which emotions are combined and experienced. Norbet Elias’ Civilizing Process, and Michel Foucault’s studies of discipline and punishment (compounded in the construction of Jermeny Bentham’s famous Panopticon as a vehicle for moral reform) are historical examples of how society engenders complex, socially constituted emotions such as shame and guilt to maintain social order and police the boundaries of class and status. Think about how the modern institutions of society – work, family, church, government, market, media, social networks – shape and assemble your emotions in ever more complex forms.

Reflect on your feelings right now. Are they basic or complex? Individual or social?

#S344UOW18 #Tut3 #Mon1430

Posted in SOC327 - Emotions Bodies and Society, UOW.

11 Comments on SOC344 2018 Tut3 – Mon 14.30pm

Ka Chun Kevin Ho said : Guest Report 4 months ago

Reflecting own personal feelings that I have been dealing with during these days is being stressful. I am an international student from Hongkong and I have been studying for my degree for more than 6 years. To be honest, I have been suffering from ODC which leads to depression since ages ago, but my condition is not steady. Sometimes getting better and sometimes could be very worst. For me, it is a war to fight and you must fight against yourself. In fact, no one else can help much and I can tell the biggest enemy is yourself. Depression is a horrible mental health illness which is mix of negative feelings lead to. Moreover, depression gives you negative feelings also destroys your confidence. Most of the patients hide themselves and stay away from people in order to avoid embarrassment and shame. They are afraid of crowd and interactions. In addition, Elias (2004) claims that shame began construction “fear of social superiors and fear of transgression of social prohibitions took on the character of inner fear, shame” It brings the idea of the construction of shame and guilt to maintain social order, or punishment and discipline. For example: if a kid misbehaves himself in school and his name will be written on the board for the whole day for the class to see that end up creates the emotion of shame and embarrassment which the kid will be refusing to get anymore. Hence, we all have different emotions both basic and complex every single day, but it is better to define what emotion it is instead of being ambiguous in order to understanding more about emotions. #S344UOW18 #Week3 #Mon1430

Liam Marsh said : Guest Report 7 months ago

Emotions are something that while universal (everyone can experience them) are also unique, meaning that individuals may have different perceptions of basic or complex emotions. Society, individuals and institutions play a role in the way people experience emotions. An example I think of is when a psychologist or a counsellor tries to identify the way a patient feels when the emotion they would feel in that scenario may differ from the patient, each persons emotions are unique to them and their experience but are also socially constructed. As an example I think of the last time i felt an ambiguous emotion which would have been my wedding day. The socially constructed view is that this should be the happiest day of your life. This is a very basic description of the emotions that I felt on my wedding day, while happiness is definitely an emotion that is felt, there is also elements of stress, anticipation, fear, anxiety etc. that often goes unmentioned. As for my emotions right now, I would say they are pretty basic in that I'm happy with where I am at, this is on both an individual and social scale.

jewel schwarz said : Guest Report 7 months ago

There are definitely basic emotions that are inherent and shared across culture and language, I think these emotions are more so instinctual. But when they are combined or influenced by society they can create complex emotions. Burkitt’s differentiation between emotions and feelings is an interesting approach, saying that feelings come from the body specifically and have objective qualities. Whereas emotions are seen to come from both the body as well as cultural discourses. This led to the development of the phrase, ‘emotional vocabulary’ “complex constructions, capturing complex cultural relations, labels and imaginings”. These vocabularies are most often when looking at these ambiguous emotions. One’s we can’t exactly identify through words, often a combination of multiple emotions occurring at once. I think an important part of looking at complex emotions is the role society plays. Often times our emotions are regulated and sometimes even constructed by our societies. Shame and guilt are examples of socially constructed emotions that are in place to control and maintain social norms in society. Institutions give a proper way in which you are expected to shape your emotions, where certain emotions are excepted and where they are not excepted. Wouter talks about aspects of this in their article in the context of formalization. This example discusses how during the renaissance period this idea of societal conditioning took place. A long-term process of disciplining behaviors, tabooing emotions and actions. Over time this institutionalized set behaviors and actions that are accepted and/or rejected in society.

jewel schwarz said : Guest Report 7 months ago

There are definitely basic emotions that are inherent and shared across culture and language, these emotions are instinctual. But when they are combined or influenced by society they can create complex emotions. Burkitt’s differentiation between emotions and feelings is an interesting approach, saying that feelings come from the body specifically and have objective qualities. Whereas emotions are seen to come from both the body as well as cultural discourses. This led to the development of the phrase, ‘emotional vocabulary’ “complex constructions, capturing complex cultural relations, labels and imaginings”. These vocabularies are most often when looking at these ambiguous emotions. One’s we can’t exactly identify through words, often a combination of multiple emotions occurring at once. I think an important part of looking at complex emotions is the role society plays. Often times our emotions are regulated and sometimes even constructed by our societies. Shame and guilt are examples of socially constructed emotions that are in place to control and maintain social norms in society. Institutions give a proper way in which you are expected to shape your emotions, where certain emotions are excepted and where they are not excepted. Wouter talks about aspects of this in their article in the context of formalization. This example discusses how during the renaissance period this idea of societal conditioning took place. A long-term process of disciplining behaviors, tabooing emotions and actions. Over time this institutionalized set behaviors and actions that are accepted and/or rejected in society.

Claire Teale said : Guest Report 7 months ago

Even though there are basic emotions that everyone seems to be able to recognise due to facial cues and other forms of body language, something that has kept arising from this subject is whether we all really experience the most basic of emotions in the same way. For example, my understanding of happiness could differ extremely from another person’s understanding of that emotion, and it has become apparent to me that emotions are not as simple as they appear. Last month I was catching a flight from India to return to Australia after a month of travel, and I felt enormously conflicted. On one hand I was excited to return home to see my family and friends, but I also felt a great amount of sadness at leaving India and having my journey come to an end. I was also anxious about catching a flight and stressed on my way to the airport that I had not left enough time to get there. Relating this to Foucault’s studies on discipline and punishment and even Elias’ Civilizing Process, it could be hypothesised that I was struggling between upholding societal norms, i.e. going back to university and work, and being around my family, and the contrasting desire I had to continue my travels and go against what is generally expected of me. These emotions were both social and individual, as they were partly motivated by seeing those I am closest with, and also emotions that were spurred on by my inner self. #S344UOW18 #Tut3 #Mon1430

Amy Garrill said : Guest Report 7 months ago

The last time I felt an ambiguous feeling was when I was walking into the exam room for my end of semester exam. I can now acknowledge that I was feeling two separate feelings, explained in Robert Plutchik's 'colour wheel' of emotions, as apprehension and acceptance. I was apprehensive entering the exam room as I didn't know which questions were going to be asked, and if I would be able to confidently answer to them. However at the same time, I felt a sense of acceptance knowing that I had studied as much as I could, and there was nothing more that I could possibly do to prepare for the exam. The mixture of the two emotions according to Robert Plutchik left me in a state of ‘submission’. The feeling of submission is both a complex emotion, as it is the combination of two other emotions, and an individual emotion. However I believe that it could be argued that, the feeling of submission in my case could be seen as a social emotion as well. My social context, being University, could have added to the fear or anxiety that I was feeling leading the emotion of apprehension. #S344UOW18 #Tut3 #Mon1430

Britt Pike said : Guest Report 7 months ago

I do believe there is a social aspect to emotions, and that we can be influenced by certain social structures. As seen in the Wouters reading about the history of manners and etiquette, social hierarchies and the breaking down of them in regard to social relations have not just changed how we act, but how we feel about certain things. We no longer urinate or defecate in front of others due to these bodily functions becoming linked to emotions like shame, which was first practiced among the the feudal court classes of the Middle Ages and trickled down through to other parts of society (pg.197). The trend of dominate powers influencing other classes is shown even when traditional hierarchies are torn down, like during the Women's Rights and Black Rights movements of the 60s and 70s (pg.207) But to say emotions are something that is inherently social, in my opinion, is wrong. Language is a useful tool in being able to communicate emotion, but sometimes it falls short in accurately explaining what we feel. Love is given as an example, in the Burkitt reading, as a kind of emotion that has very clear physical feelings but incredibly hard to pinpoint an origin or describe (pp162-163). We can consciously reflect on how we feel when we love someone, but if we were asked to describe what love felt like it would be difficult without including the physical sensations that typically accompany the idea of love. I think this provides a good example of how emotions are both social and biological. #S344UOW18 #Tut3 #Mon1430

Abey Hatzantonis said : Guest Report 7 months ago

I believe that every individual feels and understands the basic emotions that are experienced. In regards to complex emotions I believe that society and in particular social media is responsible for the construction of these complex emotions. Social media gives everyone a platform in which individuals are constantly expressing themselves, yet this expression may not always be a true representation of who the individual actually is. Overall I believe that emotional states are generally complex due to the constant everyday interactions between social media and an individual’s emotions, making it difficult to experience just basic emotions. Not knowing whether or not representations are real can lead to individuals experiencing complex emotions such as envy and hate towards themselves or someone else when their own representation does not match up to a more desirable one. The last time I was left feeling ambiguous was when I was able to go home early from work, I was left feeling happy to be able to go home early but also felt a mixture of annoyance and disappointment as also wanted to finish my full shift so I could receive the few extra hours of pay I would have gotten. At this point in time, reflecting on my feelings I believe they are complex as well as social. The reason for this being I am experiencing some feelings of guilt as I have not properly started one of my major assignments in a way that will make sure I don’t have to rush certain parts of it, which leaves me feeling disappointed on top of the guilt for not starting the assignment earlier and shameful for not being better prepared. #S344UOW18 #Tut3 #Mon1430

Allie Sims @AllieSoc said : Guest Report 7 months ago

Emotions rule our lives. It is impossible for us to live without them but we do not stop to consider how many emotions there actually are. Many psychologists have attempted to empirically and universally categorise emotions. Plutchik’s wheel of emotions is one example. Ekman’s facial action coding system is another. Plutchik’s wheel uses eight basic emotions which overlap and, like colours, bled into each other. However this theory can vary depending on the culture or society. It also leaves out society based feelings such as guilt and shame. Ekman’s theory proposed that there are seven emotional expressions universal to people all over the world. The reading by Burkitt seeks to find the way in which feelings become emotions. Metaphors help us make sense of our feelings because they come to represent them and thus allow us to articulate them in a social context (Burkitt, 2000, pp 151 and 166.). Emotions, and how we experience and express them, can be both abundantly apparent and remarkably subtle. #S344UOW18 #Tut3 #Mon1430

Lauren Wightman said : Guest Report 7 months ago

As highlighted by Burkitt (2000), there is a tendency to believe our emotions, such as anger or grief, are objects inside of us in which we can reflect and work with. However, as Burkitt explains, emotions actually stem from our relationships and can ‘only have sense and meaning in the context of relations to other bodies’ whether they be human or non-human, as seen with discourse (Burkitt, 2000, p. 151). Every society teaches values, norms and accepted behaviours to children through social institutions such as family, school, church and government. Hence, emotions are implicated in the regulation of minds and bodies through institutions and processes of punishment, control and sanctioning. Thus, when considering emotions it is also important to consider our relationships with each other and also humans, as a social group, with our worlds, to see how we modify and interact with one another.

Keisha said : Guest Report 7 months ago

In regards to modern institutions I believe they are assembling emotions into a more complex form. Social media is an example of this, individuals within society are constantly in touch with the outside world and there is limited places to escape. An individual can all hours of the day as they are constantly connected via emails and portable technology, thus leading to feelings of guilt and shame when they do decide to switch off. The same can be said for social media, we are able to see the best version of others which they carefully select and despite this not being a true representation may lead to an individual reflecting upon their life in a negative way. Reflecting on my feelings at this in point I believe they are complex and social. I am feeling high levels of stress due to being too heavily relied upon at my place of employment, I feel a significant amount of guilt (which is a mix of three different primary emotions)as I have two assignments due next week and I have not managed to start them in a timely manner and also high levels of shame as I am unable to feel happy for a co-worker who received a promotion ahead of me. I am beginning to realise that as much I would like to have control over my emotions sometimes it is not possible.

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