Dmitry Kurakin 1, 2
  • 1 National Research University Higher School of Economics, 20 Myasnitskaya Str., Moscow, 101000, Russian Federation
  • 2 Yale University, 204 Prospect St., room 2004, New Haven, CT, USA, 06511

Cathectic Mechanisms of Culture. Part 2

2024, vol. 23, No. 1, pp. 9–39 [issue contents]
The article introduces a new research program that focuses on the constitutive role of emotions, affect, and their intensity in meaning-making. It opposes the existing broad tradition that effectively posits culture as information, sees cultural processes as coding, transferring, and processing information, and treats emotions as a ‘fuel’ feeding these processes in social life. I build this program around the re-interpretation of the concept of ‘cathexis,’ defined as a basic feature of meaning-making that consists in attaching emotions produced in social interactions to various kinds of objects of that meaning-making: things, ideas, representations, symbols, bodies, and their parts; spatial (e.g., pieces of land) and temporal (e.g., events) phenomena. Drawing on the analysis presented in the first part of this article, in this part, I introduce two basic modes of cathectic mechanisms of culture (piety and transgression) and outline five general features of cathexis (persistence, the pharmacy principle, boundary-making, situational spontaneity, and emergence). Based on this program, I review existing research dealing with the emotional dimension of culture. I organize this material into three sub-sections: perception, identity and social change, and ‘energetics’ of social action. I show that using the theory of cathexis as a common denominator empowers existing approaches, puts them on the same board, and moves us to a better understanding of the emotional dimension of culture.
Citation: Kurakin D. (2024) Katekticheskie mekhanizmy kul'tury. Chast' 2 [Cathectic Mechanisms of Culture. Part 2]. The Russian Sociological Review, vol. 23, no 1, pp. 9-39 (in Russian)
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