From ideology to feeling: discourse, emotion, and an analytic synthesis

McAvoy, Jean (2015). From ideology to feeling: discourse, emotion, and an analytic synthesis. Qualitative Research in Psychology, 12(1) pp. 22–33.



Recent arguments in the social sciences exhort a turn to affect and, either explicitly or by implication, a move away from or beyond the earlier turn to language. This conveys a presumption that the site and logic of discursive investigation must inevitably be different to the site and logic of affective investigation. Instead, this article suggests that a non-reductive psychosocial understanding of both discourse and affect needs a way of dissolving the dualism which inhabits and motivates much current debate around discursive and affective ‘fields’. This article illustrates a route towards dismantling the apparent segregation of discourse and affect in the call to an affective turn. The data come from a project exploring women’s talk of success and failure. Analysis here focuses on affective-discursive practices in discussion of ‘failed attempts to control body weight’, set within the context of contemporary western neoliberal ideology. Discourse and affect are both approached as semiotic, relational practice. As such, affect is made accessible to analysis via concepts already familiar in studies of discursive practice in social psychology, including the reproduction and negotiation of ideologies and the management of trouble. This analytic focus on practical deployments in interaction enables epistemological and ontological psychosocial arguments to be grounded in practical discursive-affective accomplishments.

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