Social Suffering and the New Politics of Sentimentality

Authored by: Iain Wilkinson

Routledge International Handbook of Contemporary Social and Political Theory

Print publication date:  March  2011
Online publication date:  March  2011

Print ISBN: 9780415548250
eBook ISBN: 9780203875575
Adobe ISBN: 9781135997946

10.4324/9780203875575.ch39

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Abstract

In recent years, the concept of ‘social suffering’ has been widely adopted in social science as a means to refer us to lived experiences of pain, damage, injury, deprivation, and loss. Here it is generally understood that human afflictions are encountered in multiple forms and that their deleterious effects are manifold; but a particular emphasis is brought to bear upon the extent to which social processes and cultural conditions both constitute and moderate the ways in which suffering is experienced and expressed. With reference to ‘social suffering’ researchers aim to attend to the ways in which subjective components of distress are rooted in social situations and conditioned by cultural circumstance. It is held that social worlds comprise the embodied experience of pain and that there are often occasions where individual suffering is a manifestation of social structural oppression.

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