Feeling Rules, Atmospheres and Affective Practice: Some Reflections on the Analysis of Emotional Episodes

  • Margaret Wetherell


One of the intriguing features of affect and emotion is that it can provide spectacular demonstrations of the limits of human agency. Affect can arrive ‘unbidden’, to use psychologist Paul Ekman’s (1994) term. We simply find ourselves ‘in a state’ (Baraitser & Frosh, 2007; also Probyn, 2005), taken over by grief, anxiety, rage or euphoria. Or perhaps we discover we are infused by some turbulence of body/mind that as yet has no shape, but which is intensely diverting nonetheless. The neuroscientist, Antonio Damasio (1999: 49), has argued that emotion could be as ‘uncontrollable as a sneeze’. The imminent and inconvenient arrival of strong affect, such as floods of tears, or the rise of panic, might be registered, but dodging or weaving is in vain. Distracting ruses fail, and affect itself has become the active agent.


Social Practice Memorial Event Emotional Labour Practice Theory Flight Attendant 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Anderson, B. (2003) Time-stilled space-slowed: How boredom matters. Geoforum, 35 (6), 739–754.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Anderson, B. (2006) Becoming and being hopeful: Towards a theory of affect. Environment and Planning D: Society and Space, 24 (5), 733–752.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Anderson, B. (2009) Affective atmospheres. Emotion, Space and Society, 2 (2), 77–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Baraitser, L. & Frosh, S. (2007) Affect and encounter in psychoanalysis. Critical Psychology, 21, 76–93.Google Scholar
  5. Barrett, L. F. (2009) Variety is the spice of life: A psychological construction approach to understanding variability in emotion. Cognition and Emotion, 23 (7), 1284–1306.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Billig, M. (1995) Banal Nationalism. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  7. Bourdieu, P. (1984) Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Bourdieu, P. (1990) The Logic of Practice. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  9. Bourdieu, P. (1998) Practical Reason. Cambridge: Polity.Google Scholar
  10. Brennan, T. (2004) The Transmission of Affect. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Burkitt, I. (2002) Complex emotions: Relations, feelings and images in emotional experience. In Barbalet, J. (ed.) Emotions and Sociology (pp. 151–167). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  12. Clough, P. T. (2008) The affective turn: Political economy, biomedia and bodies. Theory, Culture and Society, 25 (1), 1–22.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Clough, P. T. (2009) The new empiricism: Affect and sociological method. European Journal of Social Theory, 12 (1), 22–62.Google Scholar
  14. Clough, P. T. with Halley, J. (eds) (2007) The Affective Turn. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  15. Crossley, N. (2001) The Social Body: Habit, Identity and Desire. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  16. Crossley, N. (2006) Reflexive Embodiment in Contemporary Society. Maidenhead: Open University Press.Google Scholar
  17. Damasio, A. R. (1999) The Feeling of What Happens: Body and Emotion in the Making of Consciousness. New York: Harcourt Brace and Company.Google Scholar
  18. Dewsbury, J. D. (2003) Witnessing space: ‘Knowledge without contemplation’. Environment and Planning A, 35 (11), 1907–1932.Google Scholar
  19. Ekman, P. (1994) All emotions are basic. In Ekman, P. & Davidson, R. J. (eds) The Nature of Emotion: Fundamental Questions (pp. 56–58). New York: Oxford University Press.Google Scholar
  20. Everts, J. & Wagner, L. (2012) Guest editorial: Practising emotions. Emotion Space and Society, 5 (3), 174–176.Google Scholar
  21. Goffman, E. (1959) The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. New York: Doubleday Anchor.Google Scholar
  22. Goffman, E. (1967) Interaction Ritual. New York: Doubleday Anchor.Google Scholar
  23. Gregg, M. & Seigworth, G. J. (eds) (2010) The Affect Theoty Reader. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.Google Scholar
  24. Gross, J. (1999) Emotion regulation: Past, present, future. Cognition and Emotion, 13 (5), 551–573.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Hochschild, A. R. (1983) The Managed Heart: Commercialization of Human Feeling. Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  26. Layton, L. (2006) That place gives me the heebie jeebies. In Layton, L., Hollander, N. C.& Gutwill, S. (eds) Psychoanalysis, Class and Politics: Encounters in the Clinical Setting (pp. 51–64). London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  27. Massumi, B. (2002) Parables for the Virtual: Movements, Affect, Sensation. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  28. Massumi, B. (2005) Fear (The Spectrum Said). Positions, 13, 31–48.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. McCormack, D. (2003) An event of geographical ethics in spaces of affect. Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 28 (4), 488–507.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. McCormack, D. (2007) Molecular affects in human geographies. Environment and Planning A, 39 (2), 359–377.Google Scholar
  31. McCormack, D. (2008) Engineering affective atmospheres: On the moving geographies of the 1897 Andree Expedition. Cultural Geographies, 15 (4), 413–430.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. Probyn, E. (2004) Shame in the Habitus. In Adkins, L. & Skeggs, B. (eds) Feminism After Bourdieu (pp. 224–248). Oxford: Blackwell.Google Scholar
  33. Probyn, E. (2005) Blush: Faces of Shame. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press.Google Scholar
  34. Reckwitz, A. (2002) Toward a theory of social practices. A development in culturalist theorizing. European Journal of Social Theory, 5 (2), 243–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  35. Reed-Danahay, D. (2005) Locating Bourdieu. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  36. Russell, J. A. (2003) Core affect and the psychological construction of emotion. Psychological Review, 110 (1), 145–172.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Schatzki, T. R., Knorr-Cetina, K. & von Savigny, E. (eds) (2001) The Practice Turn in Contemporary Theory. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  38. Scherer, K. R. (2009) The dynamic architecture of emotion: Evidence for the component process model. Cognition and Emotion, 23 (7), 1307–1351.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Soutphommasane, T. (2012) The Virtuous Citizen: Patriotism in a Multicultural Society. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  40. Stewart, K. (2007) Ordinary Affects. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Thrift, N. (2008a) Non-Representational Theory: Space, Politics and Affect. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  42. Thrift, N. (2008b) I just don’t know what got into me: Where is the subject. Subjectivity, 22 (1), 82–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Wetherell, M. (2012) Affect and Emotion: A New Social Science Understanding. London: Sage.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Wetherell, M. (in press) Affect and banal nationalism: A practical dialogic approach to emotion. In Condor, S. & Antaki, C. (eds) Rhetoric, Ideology and Social Psychology: A Festschrift for Michael Billig. London: Routledge.Google Scholar
  45. Wise, A. (2010) Sensuous multiculturalism: Emotionallandscapes of interethnic living in Australian suburbia. Journal of Ethnic and Migration Studies, 36 (6), 917–937.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Margaret Wetherell 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Margaret Wetherell

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations