Where do we fall when we fall in love?
What are we afraid of and why?
Why do we fight? Are wars inevitable?
What makes us happy and why?
This course will take key topics in the study of emotions and show the power of culture to shape these central life experiences.
We will look at topics such as falling in love, getting angry, grieving a loss, responding to a crying baby or to a depressed friend and examine them from multiple perspectives to show their social as well as their individual character. Feelings aren’t as natural as we have been led to believe, but are produced by the cultural beliefs that surround us about what is appropriate to express and how emotions should be managed. The sociological perspective focuses on the variability cross-culturally and historically in the social experience of love, fear, anger, aggression, sadness, laughter, joy and happiness. Emotions will be analyzed as shaped by social class, gender, race, ethnicity and age and also as intertwined with power discourses (commercial, professional and political) that have an interest in producing or suppressing them.