The Emotions of Protest

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University of Chicago Press, May 24, 2018 - Social Science - 304 pages
In Donald Trump’s America, protesting has roared back into fashion. The Women’s March, held the day after Trump’s inauguration, may have been the largest in American history, and resonated around the world. Between Trump’s tweets and the march’s popularity, it is clear that displays of anger dominate American politics once again.

There is an extensive body of research on protest, but the focus has mostly been on the calculating brain—a byproduct of structuralism and cognitive studies—and less on the feeling brain. James M. Jasper’s work changes that, as he pushes the boundaries of our present understanding of the social world. In The Emotions of Protest, Jasper lays out his argument, showing that it is impossible to separate cognition and emotion. At a minimum, he says, we cannot understand the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street or pro- and anti-Trump rallies without first studying the fears and anger, moral outrage, and patterns of hate and love that their members feel.

This is a book centered on protest, but Jasper also points toward broader paths of inquiry that have the power to transform the way social scientists picture social life and action. Through emotions, he says, we are embedded in a variety of environmental, bodily, social, moral, and temporal contexts, as we feel our way both consciously and unconsciously toward some things and away from others. Politics and collective action have always been a kind of laboratory for working out models of human action more generally, and emotions are no exception. Both hearts and minds rely on the same feelings racing through our central nervous systems. Protestors have emotions, like everyone else, but theirs are thinking hearts, not bleeding hearts. Brains can feel, and hearts can think.
 

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Contents

Thinking Hearts
1
Beyond the Calculating Brain
15
Reflex Emotions
34
Urges
58
Moods
77
Affective Commitments
101
Moral Commitments
127
Conclusion
159
Trump
167
The Politics of Emotions
171
Research Techniques
197
Notes
213
Index
261
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About the author (2018)

James M. Jasper teaches sociology at the Graduate Center, City University of New York. He is the author of many books, including The Art of Moral Protest and Getting Your Way, both published by the University of Chicago Press.

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