Panel 1: Emotions, Capitalism, and the Market

The panel addressed the ways in which emotions have been generated, muted, channeled, and fueled by market exchange on the level of production and consumption. The connections between emotions, money-making and consumption, and the moral and emotional significance of market activity, have been a topic of intense discussion at least since European medieval theologians identified avarice (the excessive love of money) as one of the Seven Deadly Sins, attempting to distinguish between acceptable and unacceptable market practices and emotional investment. Since Karl Marx’s observations on how industrial capitalism affected people’s emotional set-up, there have been numerous efforts to analyze capitalism’s two-fold relationship with emotions, among them Albert O. Hirschman’s seminal study on how passions became transformed into interests in early ideas about commercial society. One set of questions concerns how capitalism (in its manifold varieties) has incited new emotional styles worldwide, e.g. by marketing certain goods as promoting love or enthusiasm. Has it emphasized some emotions, like envy, over others, like empathy? Has it changed the way people worldwide think about and deal with emotions? Another set of questions relates to how particular emotional and moral dispositions might engender capitalist ideas, practices, and modes of envisaging economic behavior. In this very context, the theory of rationalization is up for debate, and so is the concept of homo oeconomicus. More recently, the notion of moral economies that merges cultural and economic fields of inquiry has seen a revival and is put to the test for modern as much as for pre-modern societies on a global scale. Panelists were asked to engage with these and other theoretical strands and present empirical research that allows us to re-conceptualize capitalism's impact on and determination by the emotional differentiation of societies.


Laurence Fontaine
(CNRS-ENS-EHESS, Paris, France)
Emotional Economies in Early Modern Europe

Anna Geurts
(University of Sheffield, UK)
The Pre-History of Stress

Anne Schmidt
(Max Planck Institute for Human Development, Berlin, Germany)
Advertising Culture and the Making of the Modern Consumer