Emotions & social change in Ireland: Exploring habitus shift in liquid modernity
Heaney, Jonathan G.
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Drawing on insights from a range of disciplines, including philosophy, psychology, history, politics, but particularly sociology and sociological theory, this thesis explores the relationship between emotions and social change in late or 'liquid' modernity. It deploys the Republic of Ireland in the twentieth century as a case study. It argues that the Irish case in an ideal site for this research given the speed and scale of changes that have occurred there, particularly since the 1950's. The primary research question guiding the study is: What has been the effect of 'social change' in Ireland on the emotional lives of Irish people? The thesis is structured in three parts. Part one (chapters one to three) is primarily theoretical. It aims to develop a distinctive theoretical framework, process-relational realism, and argues that three concepts, properly treated, are central to answering the research question. These are emotion, power and (emotional) habitus. Part two is a bridging chapter, in which the empirical portion of the study, its design and method, are outlined. This study is based on a series of qualitative life-history interviews conducted using the Biographical Narrative Research Method. Part three is primarily empirical. The first chapter critically explores Bauman's concept of liquid modernity in relation to the Irish case and offers a short social history of the Irish twentieth century, which focuses on emotions and power. The second deploys two (ideal-type) interview cases to support the argument that Ireland experienced a habitus shift, from a relatively homogeneous to a heterogeneous habitus, and a corresponding shift from a relatively repressive emotional regime to a more expressive one, with significant effects on the emotional habitus. The final chapter takes a broader view of these changes, suggests that social change has been ambivalent, and outlines a new typology of emotional pathologies that the study suggests are characteristic of contemporary emotional life.
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