Emotions and the market. How are emotions made economically effective?

Agata Dembek


The paper provides analysis of mechanisms leading to realization of the commodification of emotions. Describing key cultural processes, characteristic for the culture of late capitalism - psychologization of an individual subject and economization of social spheres of life - I identify the relation between emotions and the market in each of those processes. I argue, that in order to intentionally engage emotions into work and market-oriented activity, they need to be rendered objects of specific kind of expert knowledge. Construction of the knowledge of emotions requires their detachment from an individual subject, their ontologization and commensuration. However, operationalized and designed emotions need to be authentically felt and experienced by an individual, since the affective engagement is expected to generate, directly and indirectly, an economic outcome. Therefore, the detachment of emotions requires complementation with its mirror mechanism - reattachment of emotions into a subject. In this paper, I depict both mechanisms, using various examples from the fields of HR management, marketing and market research. 

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