An ethnography of affect?

This evening was the next of Ghassan Hage’s seminars on Bourdieu. It was on ‘The accumulation of capital and the phallic modality of being’. I was looking forward to it, but was expecting to find it a bit dull. Social capital has ended up being one of those concepts I cannot stand, but are central to my project. I often say if I read one more poorly done one line summary of Bourdieu’s work on social capital as part of a comparison with Putnam’s work I will scream, and almost totally abandoning urban planning literature can be partly traced to this reaction on my part.


This seminar was the opposite to scream worthy, and I found it easy to follow and interesting. It helped with plugging some of the gaps in my own understandings and has highlighted some more aspects of Bourdieu’s work that I have no understanding of [yet?]. One such area that I would like to spend more time with is the significance not only of capital, but also of stance, when it comes to class.

Now I could have heard it all wrong, but it really struck me that the significance of stance was described as the ‘affective dimension of class’. Now this can mean some pretty different things. I am not sure how to understand what was said, and I am so brain dead at the moment that trying to phrase the question was beyond me. I am rather sure ‘affect’ can mean both to act on but also is the term used instead of mood when describing somebody else’s mood presentation. Internet searches are not really helping; Google turns up results for both ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ regardless of what was searched for.

I know Catherine Lutz has done ethnographic work on emotion, but I would love to find out what has been done more specifically on affect – what mood/emotional presentation is perceived. This ties into a few methodological questions I have had lately, including questions about who I will end up engaging with on the ground (based on what I perceive and how I am perceived) and how much information you can gather without even engaging with someone.

So many questions and so many things to find out more about. In the mean time, my confirmation seminar keeps being reinvented.


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