Emotions as Commodities Capitalism, Consumption and Authenticity
Capitalism has made rationality into a pervasive feature of human action and yet, far from heralding a loss of emotionality, capitalist culture has been accompanied with an unprecedented intensification of emotional life. This raises the question: how could we have become increasingly rationalized and more intensely emotional?
Emotions as Commodities offers a simple hypothesis: that consumer acts and emotional life have become closely and inseparably intertwined with each other, each one defining and enabling the other. Commodities facilitate the experience of emotions, and so emotions are converted into commodities. The contributors of this volume present the co-production of emotions and commodities as a new type of commodity that has gone unseen and unanalyzed by theories of consumption – emodity. Indeed, this innovative book explores how emodity includes atmospherical or mood-producing commodities, relation-marking commodities and mental commodities, all of which the purpose it is to change and improve the self.
Analysing a variety of modern day situations such as emotional management through music, creation of urban sexual atmospheres and emotional transformation through psychotherapy, Emotions as Commodities will appeal to scholars, postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers interested in fields such as Sociology, Cultural Studies, Marketing, Anthropology and Consumer Studies.
Introduction: Emodities or the Making of Emotional Commodities
Part I: Liberating the Self: Emotional Experiences and Moods
"It is All Included - Without the Stress": Exploring the Production of Relaxation in Club Med Seaside Resorts
Yaara Benger Alaluf
Emotional Ear Drops: the Music Industry and Technologies of Emotional Management
Cinema as an Emotional Commodity- the Horror Genre and the Commodification of Fear
Sex cards in Tel Aviv: Mood work, Recreational Sexuality and Urban atmospheres
Part II: Ideal of Intimacy: Relational Emotions
Understanding Authenticity in Commercial Sentiment: The Greeting Card as Emotional Commodity
Part III: The Ideal of Mental Health and Self-Improvement: Emotional Self-Monitoring as Commodity
(Ex)changing Feelings: On the Commodification of Emotions in Psychotherapy
"Psytizens", or the Construction of Happy Individuals in Neoliberal Societies
Toward a Post Normative Critique of Emotional Authenticity: Conclusion
Eva Illouz, one of sociology’s most innovative thinkers, brings together an engaging group of scholars to explore the complex relations between our consumption practices and the world of emotion. Framed by Illouz’ theoretical vision, Emotions as Commodities takes us into a varied tour that includes Club Med resorts, Israeli sex cards, greeting cards, psychotherapy and more. The book contributes to the sociology of consumption markets but its insights will also appeal to a general audience.
Viviana A. Zelizer is Lloyd Cotsen ’50 Professor of Sociology at Princeton University. She is the author of Economic Lives: How Culture Shapes the Economy.
Through intriguing theoretical discussions and fascinating empirical case studies, this book throws new light on the paradox of contemporary capitalism furthering both increased rationalization and an unprecedented intensification of emotional life. A must read for sociologists, marketing scholars and anyone interested in contemporary consumer capitalism, a culture ever more centered on emotional commodities or ‘emodities’.
Adam Arvidsson, Associate Professor, Department of Social and Political Sciences, University of Milano, Italy