Emotions in history

Fear, rage, love, hate, envy, pain, joy – emotions are part of everyday human experience; they determine our state of health, they motivate, support, but also hinder, our actions. Emotions and the way they come about are not static; they are dependent on time and space, they are shaped by cultural factors and socially learned. Emotions are historically changeable: emotions have a history… Go to the editorial of the “History of Emotions” internet portal initiated by Margrit Pernau and Anja Laukötter

Further links relating to emotions in history

Emotions and politics 

Over recent years, rage, hate and resentment have increasingly dominated the public sphere and provided a breeding ground for populist movements. As a consequence, precisely those individuals who had previously ranked among a silent majority, who often did not vote in elections and saw themselves as losers of the political system, have become (re-)politicised.

Within the population, two irreconcilable attitudes appear to be at odds with one another: on the one hand, there are those who let out their anger and fears and mostly avoid actually discussing them. On the other hand, there are those who feel at home taking part in rational discourse and only talk to people who want or are able to get involved on this level, too. From a democratic theory perspective, this polarisation is positive for now: voter turnout in the 2017 German parliamentary elections rose again for the first time in two legislatures.

The democratic public is in a divided relationship with emotions and feelings when it comes to politics and political competition. On the one hand, if politicians express their emotions, they run the risk of appearing “drippy”, irrational or even hysterical and not putting forward fact-based arguments. However, this scepticism towards emotions also applies to other political and social players in the narrower sense: wherever there is a need for practical decisions, rational strategies, objective assessments backed up by statistics, feelings and emotions only seem to get in the way. Terms like “Wutbürger” (enraged citizens) have already come in for criticism, alleging that these indignant individuals are only driven by exaggerated feelings, are no longer open to rational arguments and so are guided by “nothing but” emotions. On the other hand, however, expressions of emotions in political communication can give a statement a certain seal of authenticity; no political player can appear emotionless or robotic. What people want to see instead is politicians showing their “human side”, too – displaying their feelings, in other words.

Emotions are also the theme of the recently published Journals für Politische Bildung (journals for political education) (issue 2/2018).


Further links on the theme of emotions and politics

Was uns bewegt! Emotionen in Politik und Gesellschaft. (What moves us! Emotions in politics and society). 14th Bundeskongress Politische Bildung (Federal congress on political education) from 7th to 9th March 2019 in Leipzig.

Emotionen und Politik. (Emotions and politics). Aus Politik und Zeitgeschichte (issue 32–33/2013).