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Emotional (security) communities: the significance of emotion norms in inter-allied conflict management


What do Al-Qaeda, Human Rights Watch, and NATO have in common? They can all be understood as emotional communities. Emotional communities are ‘groups in which people adhere to the same norms of emotional expression and value – or devalue – the same or related emotions’. This article develops a conceptual framework for a particular type of emotional community in world politics: a security community. It is argued that emotion norms – the expression of appropriate emotions in a given situation – stabilise a security community during inter-allied conflict. The argument is illustrated by an empirical case study of NATO's military intervention in Libya in 2011. The article shows how the conceptualisation of security communities as emotional communities has significant implications for the study of regional peace and security.

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1 It should be pointed out that the appraisal of a particular emotion as ‘positive’ or ‘negative’ is solely determined by the members of the emotional community and may thus vary from community to community. For example, transnational criminal networks like the Mafia may perhaps not automatically label ‘greed’ as a strictly negative emotion.

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5 Rosenwein, Barbara H., Emotional Communities in the Early Middle Ages (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2006), p. 2.

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7 Deutsch et al., Community, p. 5.

8 Rose, Mary R., Nadler, Janice, and Clark, Jim, ‘Appropriately Upset? Emotion Norms and Perceptions of Crime Victims’, Law and Human Behavior, 30 (2006), pp. 203–19; Heise, David R. and Calhan, Cassandra, ‘Emotion Norms in Interpersonal Events’, Social Psychology Quarterly, 58 (1995), pp. 223–40; Hochschild, Arlie R., ‘Emotion Work, Feeling Rules and Social Structure’, American Journal of Sociology, 85 (1979), pp. 551–75.

9 Albert, Mathias and Buzan, Barry, ‘Differentiation Theory: A Sociological Approach to International Relations Theory’, European Journal of International Relations, 16:3 (2010), pp. 315–37; Linklater, Andrew, ‘Process Sociology and International Relations’, Sociological Review, 59:1 (2011), pp. 4864.

10 Solomon, Ty, ‘I wasn't angry, because I couldn't believe it was happening’: Affect and discourse in response to 9/11’, Review of International Studies, 38 (2012), pp. 907–28; Mattern, Janice Bially, ‘A Practice Theory of Emotion for International Relations’, in Adler, Emanuel and Pouliot, Vincent (eds), International Practices (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011), pp. 6386; Eznack, Lucile, ‘Crises as Signals of Strength: The Significance of Affect in Close Allies' Relationships’, Security Studies, 20:2 (2011), pp. 238–65; Linklater, Andrew, The Problem of Harm in World Politics. Theoretical Investigations (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011); Mercer, Jonathan, ‘Emotional Beliefs’, International Organization, 64:1 (2010), pp. 131; Bleiker, Roland and Hutchison, Emma, ‘Fear No More. Emotions and World Politics’, Review of International Studies, 34 (2008), pp. 115–35; Ross, Andrew, ‘Coming in from the Cold: Constructivism and Emotions’, European Journal of International Relations, 12:2 (2006), pp. 197222.

11 Darwin, Charles, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (London: John Murray, 1872); Freud, Sigmund, The Complete Introductory Lectures on Psychoanalysis (New York, NY: Liveright, 1966).

12 Erskine, Toni and Lebow, Richard Ned, Tragedy and International Relations (London: Palgrave, 2012); Fierke, Sacrifice; Linklater, Harm; Nussbaum, Martha C., Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001); see also Arnold, Magda B., Emotions and Personality (New York, NY: Cassell, 1960); Solomon, Robert C., The Passions: Emotions and the Meaning of Life (Cambridge: Hackett, 1993); Hutcheson, Francis, An Essay on the Nature and Conduct of the Passions and Affections, with Illustrations on the Moral Sense (Indianapolis, IN: Liberty Fund, 1728/2002).

13 Elias, Norbert, The Civilizing Process: Sociogenetic and Psychogenetic Investigations (Oxford: Blackwell, 2000).

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15 Rosenwein, Communities.

16 Gandhi, Leela, Affective Communities: Anticolonial Thought, Fin-de-Siècle Radicalism, and the Politics of Friendship (Durham: Duke University Press, 2006).

17 Hochschild, ‘Emotion’.

18 Reddy, William M., The Navigation of Feeling: A Framework for the History of Emotions (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2001).

19 Stearns, Peter N. and Stearns, Carol Z., ‘Emotionology: Clarifying the History of Emotions and Emotional Standards’, American Historical Review, 90:4 (1985), pp. 813–36.

20 White, G. M., ‘Moral Discourse and the Rhetoric of Emotions’, in Lutz, C. A. and Abu-Lughod, L. (eds), Language and the Politics of Emotion (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), pp. 4668.

21 Nussbaum, Upheavals; Evans, Dylan, Emotion: The Science of Sentiment (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2001); Harris, C. R., ‘Cardiovascular Responses of Embarrassment and Effects of Emotional Suppression in a Social Setting’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 81 (2001), pp. 886–97; Parrot, W. G. and Harré, R., ‘Embarrassment and the Threat to Character’, in Harré, R. and Parrot, W. G. (eds), The Emotions (London: Sage, 1996), pp. 3956; Solomon, R. C., ‘The Philosophy of Emotion’, in Lewis, M. and Haviland, J. M. (eds), Handbook of Emotions (New York, NY: Guilford Press, 1993), pp. 315.

22 Rosenwein, Communities, p. 24.

23 Lewis, Kevin, Gonzalez, Marco, and Kaufman, Jason, ‘Social Selection and Peer Influence in an Online Social Network’, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America, 109 (2012), pp. 6872.

24 Flam, Helena, ‘Emotional “Man”: I. The Emotional “Man” and the Problem of Collective Action’, International Sociology, 5:1 (1990), pp. 3956.

25 Rosenwein, Communities, pp. 109, 199.

26 Durkheim, Émile, The Elementary Forms of Religious Life (London: Allen & Unwin, 1995 [orig. pub. 1912]); Goffman, Ritual.

27 Heitmeyer, Wilhelm and Hagan, John (eds), The International Handbook of Violence Research (Dordrecht: Kluwer, 2003).

28 Deutsch et al., Community, p. 17.

29 Michel, Torsten, ‘Time to Get Emotional: Phronetic Reflections on the Concept of Trust in International Relations’, European Journal of International Relations, 18:1 (2012), pp. 122; Rathbun, B. C., ‘Before Hegemony: Generalized Trust and the Creation and Design of International Security Organizations’, International Organization, 65:2 (2011), pp. 243–73; Nicholas J. Wheeler, Trust Building Between Enemies in the Nuclear Age, unpublished manuscript (2007), available at: {} accessed 4 November 2012.

30 Smith, Eliot R., Seger, Charles R., and Mackie, Diane M., ‘Can Emotions Be Truly Group Level? Evidence For Four Conceptual Criteria’, Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 93 (2007), pp. 431–46.

31 Eznack, ‘Crises’; Wendt, Alexander, Social Theory of International Politics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

32 Eznack, ‘Crises’, p. 247.

33 Rappaport, Roy A., Ritual and Religion in the Making of Humanity (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999).

34 Collins, Randall, The Sociology of Philosophies: A Global Theory of Intellectual Change (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1998), p. 22.

35 Rappaport, Ritual, p. 71.

36 Douglas, Mary, Natural Symbols: Explorations in Cosmology (New York, NY: Pantheon, 1970), p. 21; Kertzer, David I., Rituals, Politics, and Power (New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 1989), p. 4.

37 Durkheim, Elementary, p. 129.

38 Deutsch et al., Community; Adler and Barnett, Communities.

39 Langer, Susanne K., Philosophy in a New Key. A Study in the Symbolism of Reason, Rite, and Art (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1957 [orig. pub. 1942]), p. x.

40 Deutsch, Karl W., Tides Among Nations (New York, NY: Free Press, 1979), p. 201.

41 Deutsch, Tides, p. 202.

42 Bellah, Robert N., ‘Civil Religion in America’, Daedalus, 96 (1967), pp. 121.

43 Planalp, Sally, Communicating Emotions. Social, Moral, and Cultural Processes (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999), p. 157.

44 Mattern, Janice Bially, ‘Power in Realist-Constructivist Research’, International Studies Review, 6:2 (2004), pp. 343–46; Price, Richard, ‘Reversing the Gun Sights: Transnational Civil Society Targets Land Mines’, International Organization, 52:3 (1998), pp. 613–44.

45 Deutsch et al., Community, p. 40.

46 Adler, Emanuel, ‘Imagined (Security) Communities: Cognitive Regions in International Relations’, Millenium 26:2 (1997), pp. 249–77, esp. p. 335.

47 Cox, Michael, ‘Beyond the West: Terrors in Transatlantica’, European Journal of International Relations, 11:2 (2005), pp. 203–33; Pouliot, Vincent, ‘The Alive and Well Transatlantic Security Community: A Theoretical Reply to Michael Cox’, European Journal of International Relations, 12:1 (2006), pp. 119–27; Bjola, Corneliu and Kornprobst, Markus, ‘Security Communities and the Habitus of Restraint. Germany and the United States on Iraq’, Review of International Studies, 33 (2007), pp. 285305; Anderson, Jeffrey, Ikenberry, G. John, and Risse, Thomas (eds), The End of the West? Crises and Change in the Atlantic Order (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 2008); Kitchen, Veronica M., ‘Argument and Identity Change in the Atlantic Security Community’, Security Dialogue, 40:1 (2009), pp. 95114.

48 Frevert, Ute, Emotions in History – Lost and Found (Budapest: Central European University Press, 2011).

49 Planalp, Emotions, p. 33.

50 Oatley, Keith and Jenkins, Jennifer M., Understanding Emotions (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1996), p. 181.

51 Damasio, Antonio, Self Comes to Mind. Constructing the Conscious Brain (New York, NY: Pantheon, 2010).

52 Elias, Process; Elias, Norbert and Scotson, John L., The Established and the Outsiders: A Sociological Enquiry into Community Problems (London: Frank Cass, 1965).

53 Elias and Scotson, Established, pp. 8, 12.

54 Ibid., pp. 13, 42.

55 Deutsch et al., Community, p. 28; Adler, Emanuel, ‘The Change of Change: Peaceful Transitions of Power in the Multilateral Age’, in Kupchan, Charles A., Adler, Emanuel, Coicaud, Jean-Marc, and Khong, Yuen Foong (eds), Power in Transition: The Peaceful Change of International Order (New York, NY: United Nations University Press, 2001), pp. 138–58, esp. p. 147.

56 Elias, Process.

57 Planalp, Emotions, p. 55.

58 Lazarus, R. S., Emotion and Adaptation (New York, NY: Oxford University Press, 1991), p. 287.

59 Michel, Torsten, ‘Time to Get Emotional: Phronetic Reflections on the Concept of Trust in International Relations’, European Journal of International Relations, 0:0 (2012), pp. 122, esp. p. 18.

60 Booth, Ken and Wheeler, Nicholas J., The Security Dilemma: Fear, Cooperation and Trust in World Politics (Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2008), p. 229.

61 Michel, ‘Time’, p. 18.

62 Mattern, Janice Bially, Ordering International Politics. Identity, Crisis, and Representational Force (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005), pp. 95–6.

63 Ibid., pp. 6, 97.

64 Adler, Emanuel, Communitarian International Relations. The Epistemic Foundations of International Relations (New York, NY: Routledge, 2005), p. 17; Pouliot, Vincent, ‘The Logic of Practicality. A Theory of Practice of Security Communities’, International Organization, 62:2 (2008), pp. 257–88; see also Adler, Emanuel and Greve, Patricia, ‘When Security Community Meets Balance of Power. Overlapping Regional Mechanisms of Security Governance’, Review of International Studies, 35:1 (2009), pp. 5984; Adler, Emanuel and Pouliot, Vincent (eds), International Practices (New York, NY: Cambridge University Press, 2011).

65 Pouliot, Logic, pp. 278–9.

66 Adler, Imagined, p. 263, emphasis added.

67 Pouliot, ‘Logic’, p. 260.

68 Hopf, Ted, ‘The Logic of Habit in International Relations’, European Journal of International Relations, 16:4 (2010), pp. 539–61, esp. p. 553.

69 Ibid., p. 540.

70 Ibid., p. 553.

71 Ibid.

72 Ibid.

73 Ibid.

74 Hopf, ‘Logic’, p. 544.

75 Eznack, ‘Crises’.

76 Eznack, ‘Crises’, p. 244.

77 Eznack, ‘Crises’, pp. 240, 248; also Eznack, Lucile, Crises in the Atlantic Alliance (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2012), pp. 32–6.

78 Adler and Barnett, Communities.

79 Linklater, Harm; Barbalet, J. (ed.), Emotions and Sociology (Oxford: Blackwell, 2002).

80 Deutsch et al., Community, p. 48.

81 Adler and Barnett, Communities, p. 46.

82 Flam, ‘Emotional’, p. 48; see also Scheff, Revenge, p. 51.

83 Lucile Eznack, Anger toward friends vs. anger toward enemies. How affective dispositions affect states’ emotional reactions to each other's behavior, Paper prepared for the 53rd Annual Convention of the International Studies Association, San Diego (1–4 April 2012).

84 Goffman, Ritual; Elias, Process.

85 Scheff, Revenge, pp. 32, 53.

86 Adler and Barnett, Communities, p. 38.

87 Linklater, Harm; Elias, Norbert, Involvement and Detachment. Contributions to the Sociology of Knowledge (Oxford: Blackwell, 1987).

88 ‘The Unadventurous Eagle’, The Economist (12 May 2011).

89 Hill, Christopher, The Changing Politics of Foreign Policy (Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan, 2003).

90 Eznack, ‘Crises’, p. 242.

91 Elias, Process, p. 400.

92 Stearns and Stearns, Emotionology, p. 813.

93 Angela Merkel, Press Statement by Chancellor Angela Merkel on Current Developments in Libya (18 March 2011).

94 Guido Westerwelle, Statement by the German Foreign Minister in the German Bundestag on UN Security Council Resolution 1973 (18 March 2011).

95 Westerwelle, Statement.

96 ‘Setback for Franco-German Relations’, SpiegelOnline (24 March 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

97 ‘France Plays Hawks, Germany Demurs’, The Guardian (24 March 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

98 ‘Libya Crisis Leaves Berlin Isolated’, SpiegelOnline (28 March 2011), available at: {} accessed 4 November 2012.

99 ‘NATO Pushes Allies on Libya’, Army Times (8 June 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

100 David Cameron, Prime Minister Statement to the House of Commons Following the UN Security Council Adoption of Resolution 1973 on Lybia (18 March 2011); Sebastian Borger, ‘London kritisiert Berlin wegen Enthaltung’, Der Standard (19 March 2011).

101 Barack H. Obama, Remarks by the President in Address to the Nation on Libya (28 March 2011).

102 Obama, Remarks.

103 ‘United in Mutual Annoyance’, SpiegelOnline (6 June 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

104 ‘Gates Presses Allies To Do More Against Libya’, Army Times (8 June 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

105 ‘France and Britain Say NATO Is Not Fulfilling Its Role In Libya’, Deutsche Welle (12 April 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

106 Barack Obama, David Cameron, and Nicholas Sarkozy, ‘Libya's Pathway to Peace’, International Herald Tribune (14 April 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

107 ‘France, UK Say NATO Falling Short On Libya’, CBS News (12 April 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

108 Passive anger is a ‘deliberate and masked way of expressing covert feelings of anger’ by, for example, giving someone the cold shoulder, deprive or exclude someone from something they value, or simply avoiding someone. Long, Jody E., Long, Nicholas James, and Whitson, Signe, The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior (Austin, TX: Pro-Ed, 2008), p. 12.

109 Peter Müller, ‘Kriegsrat ohne Kanzlerin’, SpiegelOnline (27 March 2011), available at: {} accessed 4 November 2012.

110 Severin Weiland and Roland Nelles, ‘Berlin lässt seine Verbündeten alleine kämpfen’, Spiegel Online (18 March 2011), available at: {} accessed 4 November 2012.

111 ‘Merkel Praises NATO for Libya Campaign’, The Local (18 March 2011), available at: {} accessed 4 November 2012.

112 Guido Westerwelle, ‘Interview with German Foreign Minister’, SpiegelOnline (21 March 2011), available at: {http//} accessed 4 November 2012.

113 Joschka Fischer, ‘Deutsche Außenpolitik – eine Farce’, Süddeutsche Zeitung (24 March 2011).

114 ‘Koalition der Kämpfer’, SpiegelOnline (22 March 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

115 ‘Westerwelle vollzieht Kehrtwende bei Nato-Militäreinsatz’, Süddeutsche Zeitung (28 August 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

116 Elias, Process, pp. 414–15.

117 Hutchison and Bleiker, Reconciliation; Scheff, Revenge.

118 Ulrike Guérot, Germany in Europe: Angela's Walk of Shame, The European Council on Foreign Relations (24 March 2011), available at: {} accessed 4 November 2012.

119 The Presidential Medal of Freedom is awarded to individuals that have made ‘an especially meritorious contribution to the security or national interests of the United States, world peace, cultural or other significant public or private endeavors’ (EO 9586). Recipients include Mother Teresa, Lech Walesa, and Stephen Hawking.

120 Flam, ‘Emotional’, p. 49.

121 Merkel, Angela and Obama, Barack H., Remarks by President Obama and Chancellor Merkel in a Joint Press Conference, Washington, DC (7 June 2011).

122 Merkel and Obama, Remarks.

123 Barack H. Obama, ‘Interview with President Obama’, Der Tagesspiegel (5 June 2011).

124 Quoted in Dan Bilefsky and Mark Landler, ‘As U.N. Backs Military Action in Libya, U.S. Role Is Unclear’, New York Times (17 March 2011).

125 David Cameron and Nicholas Sarkozy, Joint Statement by the French President and the British Prime Minister (28 March 2011).

126 Merkel and Obama, Remarks; Guido Westerwelle, ‘Westerwelle lobt Nato-Einsatz jetzt doch’, Die Zeit Online (27 August 2011), available at: {} accessed 4 November 2012.

127 Guido Westerwelle, Speech at the UN Human Rights Council, Geneva (28 February 2011).

128 ‘Später Respekt für Nato-Einsatz’, FocusOnline (27 August 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

129 ‘Merkel fordert Gaddafi zum Rücktritt auf’, FocusOnline (27 February 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013; Angela Merkel, Press Statement, Berlin (20 October 2011).

130 ‘Wulff nennt Gaddafi einen Psychopathen’, FocusOnline (24 February 2011), available at: {} accessed 14 March 2013.

131 Anders Fogh Rasmussen, Opening Remarks by NATO Secretary General at the Working Lunch of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs with Libya Partners at Berlin (14 April 2011).

132 NATO, Statement on Libya Following the Working Lunch of NATO Ministers of Foreign Affairs with non-NATO contributors in Berlin to Operation Unified Protector (14 April 2011).

133 Barack H. Obama, Presidential Statement on Libya (22 August 2011).

134 David Cameron, Libya Statement in Full (18 March 2011).

135 Wolfers, Arnold, Discord and Collaboration: Essays on International Politics (Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1962), p 34.

136 Flam, ‘Emotional’, p. 49.

137 Adler and Barnett, Communities.

138 On norms being ‘unlearnt’ see, for example, Panke, Diana and Petersohn, Ulrich, ‘Why International Norms Disappear Sometimes’, European Journal of International Relations, 18:4 (2012), pp. 719–42.

* Earlier versions of this article were presented at the Workshop ‘Emotions and Conflict’ in Helsinki and at the Institute for Peace Research and Security Policy in Hamburg. I thank the organisers as well as the participants, especially Todd Hall, Regina Heller, Emma Hutchison, Karin Fierke, Tuomas Forsberg, Andrew Ross, and Reinhard Wolf and the three anonymous reviewers for their excellent suggestions and critique.

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