Affectivity and the Social Bond : Transcendence, Economy and Violence in French Social Theory book cover
1st Edition

Affectivity and the Social Bond
Transcendence, Economy and Violence in French Social Theory

ISBN 9780367601041
Published June 30, 2020 by Routledge
256 Pages

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Book Description

Affectivity and the Social Bond offers a fresh and original perspective on the relationship between affectivity and transcendence in nineteenth and twentieth century French social theory. Engaging in a conceptual analysis of the works of Comte, Durkheim, Bataille and Girard, this book exposes a major transformation brought about by the sociological gaze in understandings of affectivity and its relationship to both sociality and transcendence in nineteenth century social thought: the ambivalence between the transcendence of the social and the immanence of affective experience. Revealing the manner in which questions of violence and economy are intertwined in the sociological analysis of affectivity, Affectivity and the Social Bond reflects upon the problem of controlling affectivity, alongside the political implications and possible dangers of a sociological model which seeks the roots of the social bond first and foremost in the affective realm. A rigorous engagement with the classics of French social theory, their treatment of human affectivity and its relationship to social integration and regulation, this book will appeal not only to sociologists and social theorists, but also to those with interests in social and political philosophy and the history of ideas.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction; Auguste Comte: passion sublimated into love; Émile Durkheim: passion transformed into force and symbol; Georges Bataille and the accursed part of affectivity; René Girard and the mimetic desire; Conclusions; Bibliography; Index.

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Tiina Arppe is a researcher in the Department of Social Sciences at the University of Helsinki, Finland. She has written extensively about Rousseau, Durkheim, Mauss, Bataille, Baudrillard and Girard and is author of two volumes on the sacred in French social theory and the problem of evil in French social theory.


’The concept of the social bond is often considered unproblematic and secure at the heart of modern social theory. Tiina Arppe's careful and probing reading of the writings of four key French theorists - Comte, Durkheim, Bataille and Girard - suggests the analysis of the social bond always presents problems of reason, transcendence, affect and violence. This book is informative, but above all salutary since it challenges us to relinquish any idea of the social as a simple one-dimensional relation. With meticulous scholarship the emergent problematic of emotion and affectivity is here found to be fundamental even in the most rationalistic and positivistic of thinkers, and constitutes an indispensable legacy to both social and political theory.’ Mike Gane, Emeritus Professor, Loughborough University, UK