As there is no proof of the impossibility of authenticity, the search for it will continue. And the impact of this search for authenticity is itself significant, despite the ontologicalor ethical difficulties involved. The search may not authenticate us, but it does make ushuman (as do attempts to establish an equal and just society). The very wish to livegenuinely, the very attempt to become authentic, expresses courageous determination not to despair or to yield to the powerful processes of levelling, objectification anddepersonalization. To be human is to search for one’s true self and to yearn for authentic relations with others. While it is hard, almost impossible, to attain public authenticity within the prevailing social ethic, with its instrumental personal and economic relations,it is certainly feasible to attempt to do so—to take responsibility for one’s actions and tofoster true concern for others. Though the philosophers of authenticity had doubts aboutour ability to become authentic, they may well have been willing to settle for less—theymay have simply hoped to arouse our thirst for our genuine selves and to encourage us todare to satisfy it. Merely attempting to be what we are individualizes us from theanonymous inauthentic mass of everydayness that engulfs us. To use Heidegger’sexpression, we will fail ‘proximally and for the most part’, but we should still try, for intrying we are already succeeding.
This essay proposes an emotion-management perspective as a lens through which to inspect the self, interaction, and structure. Emotion, it is argued, can be and often is subject to acts of management. The individual often works on inducing or inhibiting feelings so as to render them “appropriate” to a situation. The emotion-manage- ment perspective draws on an interactive account of emotion. It dif- fers from the dramaturgical perspective on the one hand and the psychoanalytic perspective on the other. It allows us to inspect at closer range than either of those perspectives the relation among emo- tive experience, emotion management, feeling rules, and ideology. Feeling rules are seen as the side of ideology that deals with emotion and feeling. Emotion management is the type of work it takes to cope with feeling rules. Meaning-making jobs, more common in the mid- dle class, put more premium on the individual’s capacity to do emo- tion work. A reexamination of class differences in child rearing sug- gests that middle-class families prepare their children for emotion management more and working-class families prepare them less. In this way each class prepares its children to psychologically reproduce the class structure.
Members of worker cooperatives—organizations collectively owned and democratically run by their workers—report substantial differences in how they can or must perform various emotions, compared with previous work at conventional, hierarchical organizations. First, some emotions not allowed in conventional workplaces are fully permitted at worker cooperatives, including negative emotions, like anger, but also positive emotions, like enthusiasm. In contrast, other emotions must be displayed, even if insincere. Sometimes, these displays are accomplished through surface acting, like pretending to happily accept the slow pace of committee-led change. Other times, through deep acting, members internalized new emotional reactions, such as pride, instead of resentment, when helping coworkers even after their own shifts had ended.
This article theorises the affective structure of neoliberal capitalism as involving a dominant reactive affect of anxiety. This differentiates neoliberalism from earlier periods, based on the dominant reactive affects of misery and boredom. Anxiety is theorised as an effect of social mechanisms, including precarity. It is suggested that current social movement strategies and pedagogical approaches are inadequate to respond to this context, as they are designed mainly to combat earlier forms of reactive affect. A method of precarity consciousness-raising is theorised as a means to overcome the political disempowerment caused by anxiety, and create a machine for fighting anxiety. The later parts of the article explore the affective and discursive effects involved in feminist consciousness-raising, and explore the possibility for using this approach as a model for a similar response to precarity and anxiety.
Using qualitative evidence, the concept of reciprocal emotion management is introduced and the role it plays in the reproduction of status inequality in the workplace is illustrated. Reciprocal emotion management is the reciprocal effort of similar others to manage one another’s emotions. Three norms that exist in the workplace are also identified: professionalism, deference, and caretaking, and it is proposed that as paralegals strive to appear professional, they display deference to attorneys and accept having deference withheld. Reciprocal emotion management is one mechanism through which they are able to manage their emotional reactions to the status inequity in their daily interactions with attorneys. Ironically, pursuit of professionalism in these ways tends to perpetuate their marginal or inferior status in law firms.
Privilege and Power of Suggestion
How Self-Interest Shapes Our Opinions and Why We Won’t Admit It
The Physiology of Sexist and Racist Oppression