Emotions are engagements with a continuously changing world of social relationships. In the present article, we propose that emotions are therefore best conceived as ongoing, dynamic, and interactive processes that are socially constructed. We review evidence for three social contexts of emotion construction that are embedded in each other: The unfolding of emotion within interactions, the mutual constitution of emotion and relationships, and the shaping of emotion at the level of the larger cultural context. Finally, we point to interdependencies amongst (...) these contexts of construction and discuss future directions of a constructionist perspective. (shrink)
Emotions are complex processes that are constrained by biology, but not fully explained without taking into account the social context in which they develop. Mapping these contexts, and understanding how and under which conditions they shape emotions, is an essential task for the science of emotions; a task that—at least in psychology—has been neglected. The three commentaries each offer some interesting reflections on exactly this task.