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Volume 35, 2018

The Joint Commitment Account

Felipe León, Dan Zahavi
Pages 117-134
DOI: 10.5840/protosociology2018357

How We Feel
Collective Emotions Without Joint Commitments

This article engages critically with Margaret Gilbert’s proposal that joint commitments are necessary for collective emotions. After introducing Gilbert’s concept of joint commitment (Section 2), and the joint commitment account of collective emotions (Section 3), we argue in Section 4 that research from developmental psychology challenges the necessity of joint commitments for collective emotions. In that section, we also raise a more principled objection to Gilbert’s account, independently of developmental considerations. Section 5 develops a complementary line of argument, focused on the notion of mutual recognition. While we agree with Gilbert that mutual recognition has an important role to play in an account of collective emotions, we take issue with her attempt to analyse face-to-face based mutual recognition in terms of the concept of joint commitment. We conclude by sketching an alternative analysis of collective emotions that highlights the role of interpersonal identification and socially mediated self-consciousness.

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