This action might not be possible to undo. Are you sure you want to continue?
http://ssi.sagepub.com Everyday lives and extraordinary research methods
Jack Katz Social Science Information 2004; 43; 609 DOI: 10.1177/0539018404047707 The online version of this article can be found at: http://ssi.sagepub.com
On behalf of:
Maison des Sciences de l'Homme
Additional services and information for Social Science Information can be found at: Email Alerts: http://ssi.sagepub.com/cgi/alerts Subscriptions: http://ssi.sagepub.com/subscriptions Reprints: http://www.sagepub.com/journalsReprints.nav Permissions: http://www.sagepub.co.uk/journalsPermissions.nav
Downloaded from http://ssi.sagepub.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10, 2008
2008 . To sociologists the study of anything as it exists in everyday life is likely to mean a move beyond survey methodology. CA and New Delhi). weekly. 0539-0184 DOI: 10. pp.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10. 047707 Downloaded from http://ssi. experience-sampling or diary methods that have become popular recently (Reis and Gable. etc. and also to characterize the frequency (daily. I ﬁnd ‘‘event sampling’’ and the ‘‘time-sampling’’.Trends and developments: research on emotions ´ Courants et tendances: recherche sur les emotions Commentaries Commentaires Jack Katz Everyday lives and extraordinary research methods It is understandable that a survey questionnaire could seem to psychologists to be a device to study emotions in everyday life.) of 14 listed emotions. Thousand Oaks.sagepub. As a sociologist who has used naturalistic methods to describe and explain emotions. Surveys take psychological research out of the artiﬁcial limitations of experiments on undergraduate students in university laboratories. Their survey also contains questions about respondents’ social characteristics and features of emotional situations. ask randomly selected respondents to report in their own written words on an event experienced yesterday that caused them to experience an emotion. survey methods have held a place analogous to the psychologist’s laboratory. setting up correlation analyses. But in the sociological research tradition. Scherer et al.1177/0539018404047707 Vol 43(4). 2000) to be intriguing both for their Social Science Information & 2004 SAGE Publications (London. 609–619.
and documentary anthropology ﬁlming. plus. at Little League baseball games. including: – interviews. supplemented by recordings I made of events I came across in my everyday life in Los Angeles (at music recitals for 5-year-olds. about their experiences in getting angry while driving. – videotapes I made of people as they reacted to funhouse mirrors at an amusement park in Paris.sagepub. – a videotape. – videotaped episodes of crying taken from US news shows. 1999). – a police videotape of a six-hour interrogation in New Mexico. – anonymous UCLA undergraduate self-reports and interviews I conducted over several years of experiences of shame. As compared to surveys of emotional events. when chance allowed. which often can be described by participant observers or found in repeated inspections of videotapes. conducted by undergraduate students in a conversational manner. passenger/interviewer observations of angry driver/interviewees. as behavior is shaped by taking into account the response of others. Naturalistic data are useful for ruling out rival hypotheses about the causal con- Downloaded from http://ssi. and (4) with detailed attention to corporeal practices. even when they escape the subject’s awareness.610 Social Science Information Vol 43 – no 4 unique contributions and for a shared indifference to how everyday life has been studied sociologically. whether copresent or anticipated. of Los Angeles drivers over 30 years of age. these interviews would usually start when I answered ‘‘crying’’ in response to questions about what I was working on. (3) diachronically. especially joyful crying. In this tradition I have pursued a range of studies of emotions in everyday life (Katz. taken from a Southern California pre-school’s recordings. 2008 . as the phenomena occur in their social context. (2) interactionally. – conversational interviews that I conducted. Within sociology’s history. studies of everyday life describe phenomena in all of four ways: (1) ethnographically. live coverage of awards ceremonies and sports competitions. etc. in which a murder suspect cried brieﬂy at two points. at elementary school holiday shows. my naturalistic studies give no basis for quantitative generalizations.). over a period of several years. of acquaintances’ experiences in crying.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10. of a 3-year-old child whining for 5 minutes. Data-gathering and recording techniques can vary. as they emerge and decline over time. at retirement parties.
2008 . hastily cutting out and neatly packaging experiences that have taken subjects a messy lifetime to form.sagepub. The selection of an emotion to report is a social act independent in time. My data-gathering strategies are biased toward describing emotions that arise and disappear in brief episodes. in ﬁlling out a questionnaire about yesterday’s emotions. However formalized or ﬂexible. if the stain of artiﬁce motivates the move out of the laboratory. Differences in the incidence and intensity of emotions as experienced by different types of people or demographic groups are appreciated. Chills often run in a bodily background before videotape can show eyes welling up. conversational interviews. respondents. ﬁeld observations and even videotape will miss many of the ﬁnely shaded edges in which emotions emerge and fade away in the course of personal experience.Katz Trends and developments 611 ditions of various emotions. but the explanation they serve is of universals – what is true of all instances of joyful crying or road rage. as well as countless dimensions of the autobiographical resonances contained in emotionally provocative life situations. but as representatives of rival explanations that are negated. First. ask respondents to ‘‘report an emotion they had experienced the day before and to describe the eliciting event and their reaction patterns’’. emotional episodes speak weakly about situation-transcending dimensions of experience such as moods and dispositions. Like all research methods. 1. For one thing. For some people the reporting of negative emotions like anger will display an attractive capacity for self-criticism. To read the responses as transparent windows onto what was lived is to deny the independent reality of personal beliefs about how one’s intimate Downloaded from http://ssi. questionnaire surveys of everyday life are not a clean solution. Scherer et al. I ﬁnd four. They highlight the limitations of survey strategies for describing emotions. social-psychological research always functions as a surgical courier service for distant intellectual audiences. Unlike time or experience sampling. are inevitably aware that they are creating an image of themselves in the here and now of the research operation. For others a gay proﬁle that helps sustain others’ optimism may be irresistible.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10. These forms of ‘‘measurement error’’ are no less disturbing because they are intrinsic to research. Yet there are distinctive advantages to the naturalistic approach to the study of everyday social life. place and anticipated implications of the emotions experienced on the prior day.
what I am likely to appreciate is that these researchers cannot be expecting me to report on much of my life. In short I must assume the survey is not intended to occasion a review of the countless eventful points in the deep and Downloaded from http://ssi. Scherer et al. much of emotional life will be neglected as respondents anticipate the sorts of things that respectable academics will not be interested in. The questionnaire’s request to identify ‘‘an’’ emotion implies that emotions are relative rare.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10. the angry tirades that are occasioned by a colleague’s reference to the actions of a political leader. why not respect the unique authenticity of that moment? I have often had the experience of sitting next to a dear companion who laughs loudly and repeatedly as a movie runs. Respondents understand that they are not on a therapy couch or babbling to themselves but are participating in a social-research project.) To view such reports as a snapshot of the outstanding emotional event in the 24-hour movie of yesterday’s experience is problematic on numerous grounds. urge that the low percentage of returned questionnaires be attributed to an absence of emotion on the prior day or a lack of sufﬁciently strong emotional experience on the part of non-responders. as obviously meant for people not like me. Or.sagepub. Perhaps the opposite is true. cite Robinson and Clore. as does the ﬁrst sentence of Scherer et al. The respondents may take for granted that Scherer et al. I must assume that these researchers cannot be expecting me to report on the powerful but morally trivial emotions that run through my dreams. Who has the Cartier-Bresson-like skill to make such images? If the question provokes description of what comes to mind in the questionnaire-reading situation.’’ Repeatedly. what we get are reports based on the honor attributed to the social-research operation. only to learn when the lights come up that she regarded the ﬁlm as a thoroughly witless waste of time. the moments of absurdist fantasies they form while observing others in supermarket lines. if I respond. could not be interested in their night dreams of passionate encounters. Issues of shame aside. Because we get to analyze only the questionnaires that are completed and returned.612 Social Science Information Vol 43 – no 4 experience should be understood. I may then toss the questionnaire aside. If emotions are virtually constant in my experience. 2008 . 2002 to acknowledge a related criticism. (Scherer et al.’s article: ‘‘Imagine that fate has ordained you to experience an emotion today. the ritual emotional displays I am always doing. the inconsequential delights and fears in my private reﬂections on my public encounters.
they leave that work to the subjects. It is important to note that such survey operations are themselves part of everyday social life for large parts of the population. much as these values make sense to people managing other important contemporary social institutions. emotions become things analogous to other things that are surveyed. household members use folk practices to select narratively worthy. The questionnaire’s list of 14 emotions conveys the researcher’s ontology of emotions. Put another way. emotionally compelling experiences from the day’s stock of events to tell and relive. Cased in the format of a social survey.’s methods are problematic precisely because they are not artiﬁcial: they invite a reporting operation that is analogous to a naturally occurring. the social forms in which research is practiced are likely to make sense to researchers as efﬁcient. As a social institution. like political opinions and consumer preferences. socially formed ritual practice. how could I stop to complete the questionnaire in practicable time? The event-sampling questionnaire effectively transfers the survey operation to the respondent. Just as elections and public opinion polls tend to reduce life to choices instantly made among Downloaded from http://ssi. Out-sourcing is often an appealing way to hide disreputable industrial work.. I should note that I use metaphors in this writing not to mock the researchers but to make a sociological point along the lines that Bruno Latour (1987) has developed. who report their ﬁndings in neat. Here the quick and dirty judgments that must be made to pick a representative emotion from the prior day disappear from the purview of the research project. In this respect Scherer et al.Katz Trends and developments 613 constant sensual/aesthetic currents of my everyday life. etc. that emotions are such that they are graspable quickly and in standard language. fungible forms. logical.sagepub. systematically disciplined. their emotion-event survey yields a valuable form of data. 2008 . much of the appeal of the method is as a kind of out-sourcing of research tasks to an unpaid workforce: researchers do not have to observe subjects throughout their day. As with survey questionnaires in general. but it is not the product envisioned by Scherer et al. who is asked to survey the experience of the prior day and pick the best candidate for a representative emotion. one that captures part of the naturally occurring everyday life of subjects. Even the survey request to selfreport an emotion in one’s own words conveys that presumptive ontology. At many dinner tables.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10. For if I start that review.
also presume a competency to ﬁll out forms. if emotions had occurred. Naturalistic methods for describing emotions seek to preserve their corporeal being as inevitably idiosyncratic phenomena. If the accurate description of emotion requires poets to struggle endlessly to invent a form of expression that will not distort the thing expressed . that can’t be the kind of emotion the surveyors expect a respondent to record. In presuming that their subjects lived a prior day in which it is sensible to believe that an emotion may not have occurred. 2008 . so emotions become things that can be identiﬁed quickly and transformed into standardized conventions. at work. to live a moment both within and outside of a conventional form. when making love.sagepub. the practice of responding to event or experience sampling assumes a brief time in which to answer. Survey methods. More subtly we also fail to reach vast areas of social life in which competing attentions overwhelm subjects’ competency to respond. a research practice that invites standardized characterizations loses contact with the phenomenon it sets out to study. 2). No two laughs are alike. Ontological assumptions matter. This is not a philosophical point. well. What laughs (and tears and anger and shame) ‘‘say’’ is that something is being experienced that words cannot fully grasp. 1988: ch. whether an event or time sample. Consider the pragmatics of answering an emotion survey. are likely to fall out of the picture. it is an empirical reality critical to the causal explanation of important patterns in social life. whether event or time focused. Thus the process through which rage rises and leads to murderous assaults has within it a process of struggling with the realization that language. while drinking and heavy partying.614 Social Science Information Vol 43 – no 4 limited alternatives. the very point of laughter is. Emotions experienced in highpressure situations. in effect. even the most vicious curses. By overriding the personal distinctiveness of emotional experience. . collaborative revisions of efforts to get descriptions right. are Scherer et al. While videotape and open-ended interviews facilitate revisits and multiple. relying on personality stereotypes about the German and French Swiss? Put another way. Downloaded from http://ssi. a promising use of emotion-event sampling is to discover its differential sensibility to different populations. cannot capture and extinguish stinging humiliation (Katz. We lose the emotional life of young children and some of the inﬁrm. . they could be recalled.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10. and in which. just as markets encourage people to narrow their wild desires and crystallize them into purchase transactions.
2008 . and. even the political and sexual emails that increasingly form the landscape of our everyday lives. theories and explanations are second-order phenomena which address the conceptions. the dialectical ambiguity over just that issue is part and parcel of my intimate manner of participating in social life. even when I don’t get the joke.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10. creating the social conditions for shaping experience into collectively patterned emotions is not only a matter of quotidian interaction ritual. start and stop laughing with just the right timing. I refer not only to the funhouses that families visit on special vacation days but to the newspaper columns and cartoons. As a prospective respondent. Now. Of particular value is his insistence that the analyst’s conceptions. I can feign anger. this means that a person’s production of an emotion is an act performed with sensitivity to its recognition in situational time and place. it is a huge industry that structures a vast part of everyday life. my angry gestures against the political leader will bond me to my like-minded colleagues. Do Scherer et al. My laugh will be received as proof I am ‘‘with’’ chuckling others in spirit. The ubiquitous exposure to stories packaged in the ancient categories ‘‘tragedy’’ and ‘‘comedy’’ is evidence that much of western culture routinely operates by structuring audience emotions. my display of shyness will sustain my proﬁle as respectful. and express righteous indignation with an eye to how others will conceptualize their behavior and use their characterization as a contingency for responsive action. hide my superiority behind humble displays. It is not simply a matter of distinguishing superﬁcial and ‘‘authentic’’ emotions. the TV and radio shows. and not only to the happy disposition-displays Downloaded from http://ssi. Alfred Schutz’s phenomenology is foundational to the sociological study of everyday life. Again we reach the ontology of emotions. theories and explanations that members of society constantly use to create social life. expect me to report the tears that fell when Lassie came home on TV last night? Or should I take it for granted that they have in mind an emotional life that I experience somehow outside the culture that constantly surrounds me? And if my work is to work on emotions. what then? I refer here not only to therapists paid to empathize and lawyers paid as surrogate carriers of outrage.Katz Trends and developments 615 2.sagepub. I would not know if Scherer et al. I don’t ‘‘have’’ emotions independent of my being a participant in social life. want me to report on such emotions. People routinely laugh. show deference through displays of shyness. Applied to the study of emotions.
Can we assume that the historical explosion of work on emotions has not affected the ongoing stream of the worker’s emotions? An appreciation of how far emotions have become part of the occupational order raises doubts about the project of asking a representative sample of the general population to identify ‘‘an’’ emotion from yesterday’s experience. When fewer women worked out of the house. Before student evaluations became a routine part of academic promotion reviews. the professor had less reason to care about student affections. the sociological study of everyday life takes the understanding that emotions are metamorphoses. The very essence of emotions as metamorphoses. 1990 and Ostrow. or at least attentive to diachronic structure.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10.616 Social Science Information Vol 43 – no 4 required by the service work that sociologists have been studying for 25 years (Hochschild. From Heidegger and Merleau-Ponty. more children could be left to cry out their tears alone. 2008 . (For two short works showing how this tradition can orient social research strategies. Many occupations consist essentially of managing emotions: keeping a class of university students interested as opposed to bored. 3. The emergence and desistance process is lost from surveys not only because most subjects won’t perform reliably as poets but because the beginnings and endings of emotional experience are ontologically lost to self-reﬂective subjects. they needed posture neither as Mutt nor as Jeff. participant observations and probing conversational inter- Downloaded from http://ssi.) This means that a ﬁrst-order requirement for studying emotions is that data be diachronic in form.sagepub. 1979). making suspects cry so that they will confess. Videotape. That subjects will not be reliable guides to the phases of their emotional experiences does not mean that the temporal dimensions of emotional experience are outside the reach of social research. that is as processes of changing the bodily form in which life is experienced. see Leder. Historical changes have brought emotions to the core of occupational practices that were once relatively indifferent to emotions. 1990. It seems unlikely that any survey can train subjects to do more than give snapshot labels to their emotional experiences and the situations in which they arose. drops off the research agenda when data are snapshot and synchronic. keeping small children from crying so that a pre-school will not collapse into chaos. When the police could beat confessions out of subjects. processes of emerging from and sinking back into relatively unreﬂective ways of being in the world.
physical fall can lead as quickly and compellingly to shame. In a way that recalls Heisenberg’s uncertainty principle. Indeed a literal. routinely are movements from a relatively non-reﬂective state of being merged with the immediate contextual grounds of behavior to a self-examining. relatively unreﬂective embrace by social life. I am thus encouraged that further development of the emotionevent survey may lead to knowledge about the kinds of people. self-probing effort to make sense of a break and to re-establish non-reﬂective grounds for further action. the kinds of social engagements and the kinds of provocations that may guide people onto one or the other of these paths. although I use a vocabulary closer to the terms of people’s mundane experiences. The process of constructing each of these emotions is radically different. In contrast to the common notion that emotions are opposed to reﬂection. these emotions bring something out of the body – shouts. to laughter or. which showed subjects reporting different dispositions based on their local weather and also based on whether they ﬁrst were asked about their local weather. In an effort to restore a conﬁdent grasp of what had been unreﬂectively used as a secure base for the self. at least the four situationally erupting and declining emotions I have studied. laughs. although ingenious creativity may be necessary. the very process of asking subjects to reﬂect on their emotional life is likely to change the phenomena they remember. What I ﬁnd is that these emotions emerge in response to a kind of fall from an unreﬂective being-in-the-world (Katz. 1996). with the addition of a belief that one has been pushed. to crying. In studies of laughter. blushes and cringing mannerisms.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10. crying. I have found something that is not unfamiliar in psychological research.sagepub. But the pursuit of this knowledge is unlikely to take on speed without a prior appreciation of an irony in the ontology of emotions. socially recognizable emotions. These behavioral speciﬁcs recognize that one has been at least momentarily thrown out of respectable communal clothing or that holding onto a Downloaded from http://ssi. to anger. The emotion path is usually taken with lightning speed. shame and anger in everyday life. 2008 . I think here of Norbert Schwarz and Gerald Clore’s (1983) phone surveys. But the origin is the recurrent existential dilemma of having to make sense immediately of having been thrown out of a taken-for-granted. tears.Katz Trends and developments 617 views can reveal much that will escape standardized self-reports. Conventional forms of academic psychological research can get at these metamorphoses as well.
but at the cost of losing contact with the sacred target. I maintain a vivid awareness of the limits of my own studies and a more general awareness of the absurd logic of social science in general. The ﬁnal point about emotions is that we do not have to come up with a rational answer to this dilemma: our emotions ensure that we will go on. even though it is based on the questionable mathematical methodo-logic of multiplying our limitations in order to diminish them.edu] Downloaded from http://ssi. 264 Haines Hall. I trust Scherer et al. Somehow it seems compelling to believe that. It is diplomatic to plead universal limitations and to speak of multiple methods that ‘‘triangulate’’ or take cumulative. If a naturalistic study of emotions in everyday life cannot conceivably lead to knowledge about more than a statistically unrepresentative fragment of human experience. by using a variety of research strategies.. ﬁnding a new awareness of the limitations of naturalistic sociology to inspire their own further work.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10. As each of us wonders how the other can go on. extraordinary effort to locate and express a typically hidden part of one’s corporeal being. Author’s address: Department of Sociology.ucla. we all go on together. This belief helps. independent approaches to the phenomena we try to describe and explain. CA 951551. 4. 2008 . [email: jackkatz@ soc.sagepub. we respond differently to the shock of ﬁnding that others’ methods throw us out of taken-for-granted assumptions about our own research ways. above all. As researchers working in different traditions. we learn more. why bother? If laboratory and survey methods proceed on assumptions that betray the ontology of emotions. USA. As I ﬁnd limitations in the methodology proposed by Scherer et al. Los Angeles.. using them may ritually serve the gods of science. I respond not with tears or shame but with what I hope is understood as some humor and. Reading Scherer et al. At the very least I now know I produce a basis for critiquing a signiﬁcant body of estimable work. University of California at Los Angeles.618 Social Science Information Vol 43 – no 4 sense of a naturally grounded being requires an immediate. with an increasingly ﬁerce conviction to continue naturalistic studies of everyday life. Any form of research will have limits that can sensibly be taken as indicating that one should not go on with the endeavor. happily locked in the agonistic bonds of intellectual community. will respond in kind.
J. (1990) The Absent Body. Judd (eds) Handbook of Research Methods in Social and Personality Psychology. American Journal of Sociology 83: 551–75. New York: Basic Books. B. (1988) Seductions of Crime: Moral and Sensual Attractions in Doing Evil. New York: Cambridge University Press. M. Ostrow. Katz. Leder. G. and Gable. Misattribution. D. Katz. G. in H. S. pp. Psychological Bulletin 128(6): 934–60. and Clore. and Social Structure’’. L. Chicago. J.com by Edison Hurtado on October 10. and Judgments of Well-Being: Informative and Directive Functions of Affective States’’. R. and Clore.L. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 45: 513–23. (2002) ‘‘Belief and Feeling: Evidence for an Accessibility Model of Emotional Self-Report’’. Schwarz. (2000) ‘‘Event Sampling and Other Methods for Studying Daily Experience’’. J.sagepub. Reis. Reis and C. D. Chicago. (1996) ‘‘The Social Psychology of Adam and Eve’’. Robinson. 2008 . 190–222. IL: University of Chicago Press. N. T. Latour. T. J. (1990) Social Sensitivity: A Study of Habit and Experience. Albany: State University of New York Press. A. Downloaded from http://ssi. Feeling Rules. H. (1987) Science in Action: How to Follow Scientists and Engineers Through Society. (1979) ‘‘Emotion Work. Katz.Katz Trends and developments 619 References Hochschild. L. (1999) How Emotions Work. MA: Harvard University Press. M. Theory and Society 25: 545–82. IL: University of Chicago Press. M. (1983) ‘‘Mood. Cambridge.