Emotional States and Embodied Nations: Emotions and State Power under Covid-19 in Ireland

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Recent work in the political sociology of emotions (Berezin, 2002; Holmes, 2004; Demertzis, 2013, 2020; Heaney, 2019; Heaney & Flam, 2013; Pens & Sauer, 2020; Pykett, Jupp and Smith, 2017) has begun to take the relationship between the nation-state and emotion more seriously. Indeed, this relationship has been thrown into sharp relief under Covid-19 where, far from the ‘decline’ narratives of recent decades, state power, and its intersections with nationalism, and emotion, have become perhaps the defining features of the current political conjuncture. The pandemic reasserts and makes visible the extent and reach of state power, and the fundamentals of what the state/citizen relation is founded upon: the sacrifice of liberty for the promise of protection. The crisis also simplifies the dominant emotional regimes operating within the nation-state, and shows how both the ‘left hand’ (caring, giving) and the ‘right hand’ (punishing, taking) of the state works on and through the emotions in a time of crisis. In this paper I wish to reflect on this ‘emotional state’ in action, and show how a more embodied conception of nationalism can help us to understand the emotional basis of state power and state legitimacy. This perspective aims to combine key insights from the sociology of emotions, cognitive sociology, and the sociology of embodiment, whilst also accounting for the key role of the (emotional) state in the attempt to (de)legitimize specific versions of (embodied) nationalism and (emotional) citizenship within the polity. The case of Ireland and the Irish State’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic will be used to illuminate key points.
Original languageEnglish
Publication statusPublished - 07 May 2021
EventSociological Association of Ireland Annual Conference 2021 - Institute of Technology Sligo, Sligo, Ireland
Duration: 07 May 2021 → …


ConferenceSociological Association of Ireland Annual Conference 2021
Period07/05/2021 → …
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