Emotions and Society

The details
Sociology and Criminology
Colchester Campus
Postgraduate: Level 7
Thursday 03 October 2024
Friday 13 December 2024
06 February 2024


Requisites for this module



Key module for


Module description

Emotions – a topic once pursued by relatively few psychologists and natural scientists – is now one of the most researched fields across disciplines. Emotion studies in the social sciences can be traced back to Max Weber and Norbert Elias, but the field has grown rapidly in the last three decades. This module aims to introduce the field of emotion studies in the social sciences, and to offer graduates conceptual and methodological tool kits for investigating emotions in their own research.

This module presents some of the major sub-disciplines, namely social constructionism, psycho-social approach, affect theory, and neuro-sociology. First, we will present the difficulties in defining the subject, i.e., the main debates over what emotions are and how to define them. We will then focus on psycho-social approaches to emotions, while the last five sessions will be devoted to sociological, anthropological and historical studies in specific emotions, including love and loss, fear and trauma.

Module aims

The aims of this module are:

  • To introduce students to the sub-discipline of emotion studies.

  • To present the main approaches and debates in the field and their relation to cognate disciplines of sociology, history, psychoanalysis, and cultural studies.

  • To develop a critical understanding of different disciplinary, conceptual and methodological approaches.

  • To provide students with methodological tools to do their own research on emotions.

Module learning outcomes

By the end of this module, students will be expected to be able to:

  1. Have an understanding of the different ways in which emotions have been conceived across disciplines, including sociology, history, psychoanalysis and cultural studies.

  2. Have knowledge and a critical understanding of key studies in the field.

  3. Have the ability to critically examine concepts of emotion and their relation to cognate disciplines.

  4. Have the capacity to apply conceptual approaches to the empirical study of emotions past and present.

Module information


  • Emotions: definitions and debates.

  • The study of 'subjectivity': psycho-social approaches to emotion.

  • Emotions in History: From the ‘Civilizing Process’ to ‘Archives of Feeling’.

  • Emotions in the life sciences.

  • Emotions and politics: The case of happiness.

  • Global emotions – is there such a thing? 

  • On Ugly Feelings: The Case of Envy.

  • Loneliness and Solitude.

  • Grief.

  • Shame and Body: The case of body-hair.

Learning and teaching methods

This module will be delivered via:

  • One 2-hour seminar each week.

Attendance in person is expected.


  • Freud, Sigmund; McLintock, David. (2002) Civilization and its discontents, London: Penguin.
  • Menzies, Isabel E. P. (1960-05) 'A Case-Study in the Functioning of Social Systems as a Defence against Anxiety', in Human Relations. vol. 13 (2) , pp.95-121
  • Harari, Yuval Noah. (2015-01-31) 'Yuval Noah Harari: the theatre of terror', in Guardian.
  • Mark Roseman. (©2016) 'Surviving Memory: Truth and Inaccuracy in Holocaust Testimony', in The oral history reader, Abingdon: Routledge., pp.320-334
  • Gordon, Peter E. (June 15, 2016) 'Peter E. Gordon — The Authoritarian Personality Revisited: Reading Adorno in the Age of Trump', in b2o: an online journal.
  • Lindsey Dodd. (2013) ''It did not traumatise me at all': childhood 'trauma' in French oral narratives of wartime bombing', in Oral History: Oral History Society. vol. 41 (2) , pp.37-48
  • Michel Foucault. (1990) 'The Repressive hypothesis', in The will to knowledge: the history of sexuality, volume 1, London: Penguin Books. vol. v. 1
  • Carol Zisowitz Stearns; Peter N. Stearns. (1986) Anger: the struggle for emotional control in America's history: University Of Chicago Press.
  • Hochschild, Arlie Russell. (2012) The managed heart: commercialization of human feeling, Berkeley, CA: University of California Press.
  • Vaccaro, Christian A.; Schrock, Douglas P.; McCabe, Janice M. (2011-12) 'Managing Emotional Manhood', in Social Psychology Quarterly. vol. 74 (4) , pp.414-437
  • Taylor, Diana. (1999-03) 'Dancing with Diana: A Study in Hauntology', in TDR/The Drama Review. vol. 43 (1) , pp.59-78
  • Elias, Norbert; Dunning, Eric; Goudsblom, Johan; Mennell, Stephen. (2000) The civilizing process: sociogenetic and psychogenetic investigations, Oxford: Blackwell Publishers.
  • Arlie Russell Hochschild. (1998) 'The Sociology of Emotion as a Way of Seeing', in Emotions in social life: critical themes and contemporary issues, London: Routledge., pp.3-16
  • J. M Bernstein. (2001) 'Freudian theory and the pattern of fascist propaganda', in The culture industry: selected essays on mass culture, London: Routledge., pp.132-157
  • Jimenez, Luis; Walkerdine, Valerie. (2011-03) 'A psychosocial approach to shame, embarrassment and melancholia amongst unemployed young men and their fathers', in Gender and Education. vol. 23 (2) , pp.185-199
  • Robert Doran; René Girard. (2008) 'Apocalyptic Thinking after 9/11: An Interview with René Girard', in SubStance. vol. 37 (1) , pp.20-32
  • Hall, R. (2019) 'Emotional Histories: materiality, temporality and subjectivities in in oral history interviews with fathers and sons', in Oral history, Colchester: Oral History Society. vol. 47 (1) , pp.61-71
  • Cas Wouters. (2007) Informalization: manners and emotions since 1890, Los Angeles, Calif: SAGE Publications.
  • Sigmund Freud. (1957) 'Thoughts for the Times on War and Death', in The standard edition of the complete psychological works of Sigmund Freud., pp.273-301
  • Deborah Gould. (2001) 'Rock the Boat, Don't Rock the Boat, Baby: Ambivalence and the Emergence of Militant Aids Activism', in Passionate politics: emotions and social movements, Chicago: University of Chicago Press., pp.135-155
  • Roseneil, Sasha. (2006-11) 'The Ambivalences of Angel's 'Arrangement': A Psychosocial Lens on the Contemporary Condition of Personal Life', in The Sociological Review. vol. 54 (4) , pp.847-869
  • Freud, Sigmund. (1957) 'Mourning and Melancholia', in The Standard Edition of the Complete Psychological Works of Sigmund Freud, Volume XIV (1914-1916): On the History of the Psycho-Analytic Movement, Papers on Metapsychology and Other Works., pp.237-258
  • Eva Illouz; Daniel Gillon; Mattan Shachak. (2014) 'Emotions and Cultural Theory', in Handbook of the sociology of emotions: Volume II, Dordrecht: Springer., pp.213-235
  • Michael Rustin. (2009) 'The Missing Dimension: Emotions in the Social Sciences', in Emotion: new psychosocial perspectives, Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan., pp.19-35
  • Valerie Yow. (1997) '"Do I like Them Too Much?": Effects of the Oral History Interview on the Interviewer and Vice-Versa', in The Oral History. vol. 24 (1) , pp.55-79
  • D. Cartwright. (2004) 'The psychoanalytic research interview: preliminary suggestions', in Journal Of The American Psychoanalytic Association. vol. 52 (1) , pp.209-42
  • Clifford, Rebecca. (2018) 'Families after the Holocaust: between the archives and oral history', in Oral History. vol. 46 (1) , pp.42-54

The above list is indicative of the essential reading for the course. The library makes provision for all reading list items, with digital provision where possible, and these resources are shared between students. Further reading can be obtained from this module's reading list.

Assessment items, weightings and deadlines

Coursework / exam Description Deadline Coursework weighting
Coursework   Book review - 500 words    20% 
Coursework   Essay - 2,000 words    80% 

Additional coursework information

Assessment details can be found on Moodle.

Exam format definitions

  • Remote, open book: Your exam will take place remotely via an online learning platform. You may refer to any physical or electronic materials during the exam.
  • In-person, open book: Your exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer to any physical materials such as paper study notes or a textbook during the exam. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, open book (restricted): The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may refer only to specific physical materials such as a named textbook during the exam. Permitted materials will be specified by your department. Electronic devices may not be used in the exam.
  • In-person, closed book: The exam will take place on campus under invigilation. You may not refer to any physical materials or electronic devices during the exam. There may be times when a paper dictionary, for example, may be permitted in an otherwise closed book exam. Any exceptions will be specified by your department.

Your department will provide further guidance before your exams.

Overall assessment

Coursework Exam
100% 0%


Coursework Exam
100% 0%
Module supervisor and teaching staff
Dr Shaul Bar Haim, email:
Dr Shaul Bar Haim



External examiner

Dr Umut Erel
Open University
Senior Lecturer
Available via Moodle
Of 20 hours, 20 (100%) hours available to students:
0 hours not recorded due to service coverage or fault;
0 hours not recorded due to opt-out by lecturer(s).


Further information
Sociology and Criminology

* Please note: due to differing publication schedules, items marked with an asterisk (*) base their information upon the previous academic year.

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