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Emotional Lives
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Book description

Emotional Lives explores the changes in emotional cultures that have taken place during the last half century and continue to affect people's identities today. These changes are driven by the culture of consumerism in contemporary post-industrial society and by the emergence of new ideas about public and private life in a time when media culture generates new forms of social relationships and deep personal attachments to celebrity figures. McCarthy shows that people are drawn to public life, not only for entertainment and pleasure but also for its dramas, for memorializing events like disasters, acts of violence, and victimhood. McCarthy's cultural-sociological approach provides new insights about emotions as 'social things' and reveals how today's mass media is an important force for cultural change, including changes in people's relationships, identities, and emotions.


'McCarthy brilliantly develops the theme that in contemporary life we seek distinctive and intense emotion in a shared culture of ‘emotional pursuits’ that range from passionate, open expressions of emotion at sporting events, to public, collective expressions of grief. Highly recommended for all who desire a deeper understanding of the social nature of emotion.'

Stephanie A. Shields - Pennsylvania State University

'Advancing a brilliant interpretive theory of performance, identity, and emotion, McCarthy offers a cultural sociology of emotions fitted to the contemporary moment. This is a powerful, richly nuanced, evocative work - a stunning and brilliantly innovative intervention.'

Norman K. Denzin - University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign

'Postmodernity poses an intriguing puzzle: how is it that we moderns are at one and the same time ever more invaded by objects and technology, and yet, passionately cultivating our authenticity? This book uniquely bridges the sociology of culture, sociology of media, and sociology of emotions and provides a rich and lucid response to one of the vital questions about the nature of modern identity.'

Eva Illouz - Hebrew University, Jerusalem

'In this insightful and highly readable book, E. Doyle McCarthy builds upon, and greatly enriches, her lifelong work on emotions. She offers a truly integrative view of the relationship between the ways emotions shape and are shaped by culture, especially the intense emotions associated with media culture today.'

George Ritzer - University of Maryland

'With impeccable clarity, an unparalleled grasp of contemporary performance theory, and an unrelenting attention-grabbing focus on contemporary social affairs and events, McCarthy’s latest book pushes us to reflect on the theatricality of everyday mediated life and the emotionality of those dramas. This is a must-read for anyone interested in postmodern culture, the sociology of emotions, the media, and identity.'

Phillip Vannini - Royal Roads University, Canada

‘… this 2017 book will be essential reading for all scholars interested in emotions, identity, and culture. It provides an exhaustive introduction to the field and many fresh insights and syntheses to inspire further study.’

Lauren Langman Source: American Journal of Sociology

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