Emotional Control   /   Spring 2010   /    Emotional Control

Emotional Control: A Bibliographic Review

Benjamin H. Snyder

The theme of emotional control in social science literature refers to something other than the simple regulation of feeling and emotional expression. Emotional control is about the regulation of emotion in light of a particular conception of the self as “in control” of itself—a self that is responsible for precisely ordering its outer comportment and inner feelings. For those who study it, emotional control is part and parcel of the process of “civilization” and is therefore connected to other aspects of modernity, such as rationalization, commodification, mastery of nature, and dispassionate calculation. Scholars who write about emotional control emphasize many of these themes, but their work does not add up to a mere reworking of classical understandings of modernity. The category of emotion fundamentally reorients these scholars’ analytical perspectives, allowing them to specify the consequences of transformations in culture for everyday life and to extend our understanding of modernization to include the deepest and most personal levels of experience.

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