Emotions and Cultural Theory

Eva Illouz*, Daniel Gilon, Mattan Shachak

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

29 Scopus citations


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.

Original languageAmerican English
Title of host publicationHandbooks of Sociology and Social Research
PublisherSpringer Science and Business Media B.V.
Number of pages24
StatePublished - 2014

Publication series

NameHandbooks of Sociology and Social Research
ISSN (Print)1389-6903
ISSN (Electronic)2542-839X

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014, Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht.


  • Culture
  • Discourse
  • Fictional emotions
  • Ritual
  • Social norms
  • Virtual emotions


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