Catal | Espaol | English    AAA
Web of the faculty and research staff of the Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
 Research / Francesc Nez

Current research activity

My research and study activity currently revolves around the sociology of emotions. Specifically, my interest lies in the investigation of a timeless subject, namely the role of emotions in social life, as regulating and standardising agents (social contexts’ role in emotions is also important), and their central status in the configuration of human subjectivity and experience. My research approaches those questions from an original angle, that of the culture of consumption and consumerism, or, shifting the emphasis, what is referred to as ‘emotional capitalism’.

Focuses of study

The formation of the expressivist culture, which culminated in the 1960s and in which expressing emotions is a key factor in the construction of the self (the transformation of emotional ‘intelligence’ into a notable ability of the middle classes; social distribution of emotions).

The link between spontaneity, authenticity and market. Observing how this process of supposed ‘authentic, spontaneous expression’ of emotions is closely connected to the consumer market’s development.

Emotions and the standardisation of social interaction. Explicitly identifying the role of emotions, and of love in particular, in influencing conduct and the institutionalisation of meaning.

Digital technologies and the quantification of emotions. Studying digital technologies’ mediating role in the quantification and commodification of emotions.

At present, I am heavily involved in a research project (backed by the Spanish Ministry of Science and Innovation) aimed at analysing how the fact that couples are nowadays able to engage in constant communication may be altering forms of affective relations, of everyday communication, and of expressing (and experiencing) emotions and the types of commitment they establish.

Sociability in virtual environments

In 1998, thanks to Agns Vayreda, I joined GIRCOM, the UOC’s research group on virtual communities. I remained a member of GIRCOM until 2006, when Roger Martnez, Pau Alsina, Isaac Gonzlez and I formed the Research Group in Knowledge, Experience and Communication (KEC) within the UOC’s Internet Interdisciplinary Institute (IN3). The current Studies in Culture and Society Group (GRECS) emerged from KEC.

In GIRCOM, my main areas of research were brand new at the time, including matters related to the new forms of sociability and electronic relations which were emerging and spreading. GIRCOM’s foundational research, a study of a forum on the UOC’s Virtual Campus, enabled all the group’s members to focus on investigation in which technology was a key element. We incorporated the science, technology and society perspective, as well as the sociology of science, into our research.

During the period in question, I developed an interest, which I still have today, in the role of metaphor in human experience (and knowledge).

The sociology of knowledge and religion

After my time at the Faculty of Philosophy (1979-1984), the culmination of which was a dissertation (supervised by Jordi Sales, 1986) consisting of a commentary on Baruch Spinoza’s Tractatus de Intellectus emendatione, I spent 14 years as a secondary school Philosophy teacher.

Meanwhile, I studied Sociology at the UAB (1989-1994), where, inspired by the teaching of Joan Estruch and Salvador Cards, I was drawn towards the sociology of knowledge and religion. I presented my PhD thesis, supervised by Joan Estruch, in the UAB’s Department of Sociology in 2005. I had originally intended to study the social contexts of belief (identifying contexts conducive to belief and to non-belief in God, in transcendence, etc.). In the end, however, on my supervisor’s sage advice, I carried out a research project on secularised priests in the dioceses of Barcelona in around the 1970s. The close to seven years of research and interviews involved were not only an intellectual adventure for me, but also a highly emotional experience due to my personal discovery of the world of the clergy.