Emotion as Power: Capital and Strategy in the Field of Power

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Recent work across the social sciences have converged on the issue of emotion. In the vanguard of these advances has been the sociology of emotions, broadly defined, which, in various guises – structural, cultural, critical, social psychological, positivist and so on – has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the emotional dimensions of social life, and its centrality to the explanation and understanding of social action. In this paper, and building on previous work (Heaney, 2011), I wish to make a contribution to an increasingly important interdisciplinary sub-field – the political sociology of emotion – and to reconsider and explain the increasingly important role of emotional practice, understood as the strategic deployment of emotional capital, in contemporary party politics.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)224-244
JournalJournal of Political Power
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 23 May 2019

Bibliographical note

Dr Jonathan G. Heaney is a lecturer is Sociology in the School of Social Science, Education, and Social Work, and an Associate Fellow of The Senator George J Mitchell Institute for Global Peace, Security and Justice, Queen’s University Belfast. His main research interests are bound up with the intersections and dynamics of emotion and power as an ongoing, theoretical and empirical, research agenda. His current research explores these issues primarily from a political sociology of emotions perspective, focusing on, what he calls, the ’emotional state’, and on party politics more generally. He is currently the Chair of the European Sociology of Emotions Research Network (RN11), and a member of the Sociological Association of Ireland.


  • Emotion
  • Power
  • Party politics
  • emotional capital
  • political capital
  • Bourdieu


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