Emotions as Discursive Resources for Theorizing Institutional Change

Heidi Hirsto, Kathryn Fahy, Johanna Moisander

Tutkimustuotos: Artikkeli kirjassa/konferenssijulkaisussaKonferenssiesitysScientificvertaisarvioitu


In this paper, we take a discursive perspective on emotions and institutional work. We study emotion talk as discursive practice and emotions as discursive, cultural-cognitive resources for theorizing institutional change. Based on a qualitative case study, we examine the ways in which politicians, as local theorizing agents, use ‘fear talk’ as a discursive strategy to theorize institutional roles and practices in the context of regulatory institutional change. More specifically, we focus on the ways in which institutional actors use socially constructed “emotion schemata”–structured folk knowledge of the antecedents and consequences of emotions in particular contexts–as a discursive resource in their theorizing accounts. In the empirical context of a political debate on the introduction of a new regulative institution, we show how proponents and opponents of institutional change evoke and draw upon different schemata of fear – threat-based fear, scaremongering, cowardice, and fear of change – in ways that regulate the foundedness, authenticity, and appropriateness of fear, and thereby its usability as a basis of moral evaluation. Our analysis shows that actors use fear talk as a resource especially for theorizing the moral implications of regulative institutional change and for regulating their own and each others’ discursive legitimacy as theorizing agents.
TilaJulkaistu - 9 heinäkuuta 2018
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