Collective emotion and the function of expressive behaviour

Price, Carolyn (2016). Collective emotion and the function of expressive behaviour. In: Abell, Catherine and Smith, Joel eds. The Expression of Emotion: Philosophical, Psychological and Legal Perspectives. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 115–136.




It is sometimes suggested that emotions can sometimes be experienced collectively in some sense. Whether we can make interesting sense of this claim is a question that is attracting increasing attention from theorists of emotion. In this chapter, I explore a new way of approaching this question. Rather than beginning by asking whether emotions themselves can be collective, I focus, first, on particular emotional phenomena – specifically, on emotional actions and on processes of reasoning and reflection that arise in the course of an emotional response. Can these phenomena sometimes occur collectively? As I explain, this is an interesting question in its own right; moreover, approaching the issue in this way suggests a new way of understanding the claim that emotions can themselves sometimes be collective. Investigating these phenomena involves understanding the nature and function of expressive behaviour. Hence, a discussion of expressive behaviour plays a crucial role in the discussion.

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