The Disengaged Citizen: Collective Emotions in Market-Based Democracy

In modern societies, the political arena is a crucial area for producing the future. Political protest is a driving force of modernization because it injects new ideas and utopian moments into the conventional political system. In societies in which large collectives no longer have significant influence, established actors recede into the background and new players enter the stage. But without class consciousness, without political parties whose voters come from all parts of society, and without dominant religious collectives, there is no clear connection between collective emotions and political groupings. The political production of alternative designs for the future becomes an open area, in which new actors and unexpected alliances are likely to emerge. Currently, we can observe how political protest is experimenting with collective emotions.

The research project addresses three dimensions of the political struggle about the future. It seeks first to discover which ideas and motivations behind actions provide the basis for specific forms of protest. Second, it intends to determine who actually speaks and which collective emotions shape the social milieu that emerges. Third, the project investigates who belongs together and which probabilities of association can result from the specific logic of action. In essence, this work will explore the alternative futures our present times produce, who will have a say in their making, and who will remain silent.

(Last modified March 2014)