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António Damásio


Bruno Latour


Gregory Bateson


Norbert Elias


Paul Diel


Pierre Bourdieu


Philip Lombardo


René Girard


Thomas J. Scheff

Professor de sociologia aposentado, é um activista contra a guerra, um adepto da cooperação epistemológica da sociologia e da psicologia numa única ciência, proponente de uma segunda etapa metodológica intermédia entre as clássicas etapas exploratórias (mais qualitativas) e de verificação (mais quantitativas): morfologia das partes e do todo, referência fundadora das teorias sociais sobre emoções, em especial sobre o papel da vergonha no estabelecimento de relações sociais. O seu último trabalho (2009) é sobre o amor.

Lançamos ao Professor algumas perguntas e também uma explicação sobre o nosso interesse pelo seu trabalho. Essa explicação fica aqui. As perguntas seguem depois, juntamente com os links para os textos que nos enviou como resposta.

Thomas J. Scheff

I did propose the concept of state-of-spirit, an instable pattern of motion for human beings use (I found three: the prohibitionist spirit (as a prison guard need to develop, or as George W. Bush did socialize everywhere in the world) the submission spirit (as immigrants develop when they look for "better" countries to start new lives, as well as entire country's public opinion change to support war when it shows up as a fact) and marginal spirit (when people decide to avoid status quo and choose to accept, as their own identity, to stay against prohibitionism-submissive normal relationship: it challenge the social secrets and taboos for that purpose).

I need to understand how emotions work and what they are because I think emotions as catalytic elements that support the stability and the changing processes of state-of-spirit adopted by each social actor (person, institution, all people, all humanity) facing each occasion. Reading your paper seems to confirm my intuitions and it represents a added value for my studies. Your ideas and proposals mean, as well, the need to learn how to bring together emotions and stat-of-spirit in methodological and empirical grounds. Thank you very much: I will digest it for a long time.

Sociological interviews

Excuse me my poor English, Professor Thomas Scheff. Please accept to answer these few questions addressed from other culture (Lisbon, Portugal, Europe) other generation (I was born 1956), that will presented in a proper webpage to share with sociology students.

1. There is almost 20 years you presented the part/hole morphology as your interdisciplinary theory/method to applied in between qualitative (exploratory) and quantitative (extensive) methods. Today, can you mention simple and good raisons to confirm your proud presentation of the proposal of yours?

2. In the sociology of emotions community you are known for stressing the importance of pride and shame for the building of social bonds. One can figure that your pride in your own innovative sociological perspective is only one side of the raisons which brought you to find other ways of doing sociology. What kind of shameful situations help you to develop the will to build your sociological approach? Are there “academic gangs” experiences involved on it?

3. Your part/hole way of doing sociology claim the need to converge micro and macro analysis, studying systematically many singular cases and comparing them in order to find what is common between them all. Take, for instance, shame emotion. Is it the same kind of social phenomena the shame an individual can feel during a constringing situation and the shame French people felt in between the 1871 German-French war and the World War I? Structural social phenomena stable for decades can compare with short face-to-face social interactive episodes?

4. You said that exchange is the basic molecule of social behaviour. For that to happen there would be a response of a person to an action of other person. Do you think, as Francesco Alberoni do in his study Genesis on social movements, that the minor social relation need to presence of two people? Sociology has nothing to say whenever a person is alone – working, depressing, ill, whatever? Loneliness is it a social emotion?  Are lonely people a legitimate sociological study subject?

5. You mention interdisciplinary social and humanistic work as a need to do good sociology (and psychology). In practice, did you notice any changes in the centripetal trends sociology is done the last decades? What can you comment on that?


To answer your questions about my work on emotions, part/whole, and my own life, here is a compromise response.

I have included the file on my favorite emotions article, about the deference/emotion system. This update has just been published in a essp volume edited by Debra and Helmut. I have also attached a recent draft on part/whole. Finally, you might want to look at the memoire section of a book I recently published, Easy Rider.



Concrete Instances for Grounding Theories: Parts and Wholes                   (ou como a teoria social pode ter efeitos terapêuticos)