ABSTRACT

This chapter theoretically develops a Bourdieusian understanding of emotions and affect. I begin by discussing reflexivity and then move to outline relevant work that uses Bourdieu as a springboard to develop tools that can shed light on the role the symbolic and the moral play in class relations. That work is important for considering inequality in the field of youth studies. There have been several important strands of Bourdieusian inspired theory. For example, under the banner of Feminism after Bourdieu, Adkins and Skeggs (2005) developed his ideas in critical engagements that engage with notions of affect and emotions. The chapter then offers a way of bringing two different perspectives together – Bourdieusian practice theory and the ‘affective turn’ (Clough with Halley 2007; Gregg and Seigworth 2010) – to consider how the emotional aspects of everyday life are affectively haunted (Gordon 2008) by classed properties. Work on affect is making an impression in youth studies, especially in relation to gender and sexuality (Coffey 2013, 2016; Renold and Ringrose 2011; Kofoed and Ringrose 2012; Skourtes 2016). I argue that affect happens in specific social circumstances to produce class-inflected emotions (also shaped by gender, ethnicity and so on) that do much to hold together the lives of young people and, at the same time, contribute to experiences of disadvantage, insecurity, uncertainty, precarity, anxiety and ambivalence. Inequality is affective, it goes beyond one’s material possessions. Bourdieu’s work has been vital for understanding symbolically violent social relations, but has had little to say about how an affective economy actually functions.