Volume 35, 2018
The Joint Commitment Account
Collective Emotions and Normativity
There are two opposite views about the relation of collective emotions and normativity. On the one hand, the philosopher Margaret Gilbert (1997, 2002, 2014) has argued for years that collective emotions are by constitution normative as they involve the participants’ joint commitment to the emotion. On the other hand, some theorists especially in sociology (Durkheim 2009, 2013a; Collins, 2004) have claimed that the values of particular objects and/or social norms originate from and are reinforced by collective emotions that are intentionally directed or associated with the relevant objects or actions. In this chapter, I discuss these opposing views about the relation of collective emotions and normativity, defending the latter view. While collective emotions typically emerge in situations in which some shared value or concern of the participants is at stake, I suggest that collective emotions may also ontologically ground norms in the manner suggested by Durkheim. I present support for this view from a recent sociological case study on the emergence of punitive norms in the social movement Occupy Geneva.