It is strange to think that the political sociology of emotions is quite immature when compared with the enormous growth of the sociology of emotion over the last 25 years or so (Kemper, 1990, 1991; Barbalet, 1998; Williams, 2001). Scholars have only recently brought emotions back in the analysis of social and political movements, power relations and institutions (Goodwin, Jasper and Polletta 2001; Holmes, 2004; Ost, 2004; Marcus, 2002; Berezin, 2002). Even so, a robust political sociology of emotions is far from being to the fore. I could make a claim analogous to a statement made by Jack Barbalet (2002, p. 6) with regard to the sociology of emotions: even before the advent of the term, the political sociology of emotions, the centrality of emotion and the role of particular feelings in politics had been recognized. The marginalization of emotions and feelings1 in political sociology up to now is in a large degree the result of: (a) the stripping of the dimension of passion from the political because it was associated with romantic and utopian conceptions unrelated to the modern public sphere as well as because of the more or less instrumental and neutral-procedural conception of politics, a popular view at the end of the 1960s as well as today (Habermas, 1970; Mouffe, 2000); (b) the supremacy of ‘interest’ as opposed to ‘passion’ as an explaining factor of political action, already in effect in the middle of the eighteenth century (Hirschman, 2003); (c) the dominance, for many years, of the rational choice paradigm in a very large number of political science departments in the USA and Europe, in the context of which emotions are either conceived as irrational elements or taken as objective traits which do not affect the actor’s, by definition, ‘rational’ thinking (Barbalet, 1998, pp. 29ff; Williams, 2001, pp. 15–16); and (d) the mistreatment of emotions even in the political culture paradigm, the great rival of rational choice (Barry, 1970; Eckstein, 1988), due to the prevalence of quantitative methodologies according to which the affective dimension has been shrunken into a numeric item or variable.


Political Culture Moral Sentiment Greek Populism Moral Indignation Political Sociology 
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© the authors 2006

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  • Nicolas Demertzis

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