Emotional Echoes: Young People, Divorce, and the Public Media, 1960-2000

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The article introduces the methodological concept of emotional echoing to analyze the cultural formation of individual emotions and demonstrates its utility in an analysis of young people’s emotional experience of parental divorce in Denmark between 1960 and 2000. Drawing on recent theorizations within the history of emotions, we posit that emotional echoing is a key element in the historical processes through which emotions are configured. Individuals more or less consciously employ collective templates of emotionality to interpret and convey their own feelings, giving shape to experience and subjectivity in the process. We then present a study of a variety of Danish public media to examine how young people interpreted and described the experience of parental divorce. We argue that a new public emotionality emerged at this time and that this impacted young people’s experiences. Growing divorce rates, the breakdown of patriarchal family structures, the rising status of children and youth, and the blooming media market all helped spur this change. Echoing each other’s tropes, practices, and images, young people emphasized the difficult and painful aspects of the emotional experience of divorce. During the last decades of the century, they increasingly articulated anger toward their parents, but they also more often emphasized “bad conscience” and signaled the importance of regulating one’s own emotions to protect one’s parents. Through nonmechanical and creative echoing, young people processed their emotions by digesting and contributing anonymously to the public media.
Original languageDanish
JournalJournal of Social History
Volume55
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)226–253
Number of pages28
ISSN0022-4529
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2021

ID: 250808420