The learning of emotion in/as sociocultural practice: The case of animal rights activism

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Background: Learning sciences researchers, including those in the sociocultural tradition, often address emotion on motivation’s terms, as a condition or quality of being that propels or mediates learning activity. Other times, emotion remains implicit in analyses of learning. Methods: Toward a more robust theorization of the relationship between learning and emotion, I present a sociocultural analysis of ethnographic fieldnotes and interviews with animal rights activists. Findings: I present a sociocultural practice view on emotion, introducing “emotional configurations” to denote how emotion, rather than comprising universal and internal states, only becomes meaningful through entanglement with sense-making and situated practice in social activity. Analysis reveals two modes for emotion in learning: (1) as a condition of learning that drives learning along and (2) as a target of teaching and learning in its own right. I name “guided emotion participation” as a genre of activity that approaches emotional configurations as a learning target. Contribution: Integrating sociocultural practice theory with emotion research provides new tools for analyzing emotion in learning. This study highlights how emotion is subject to norms, ideology, and power relations. For researchers studying the politics of learning, this study demonstrates how emotion shapes political possibilities and collective action as learning phenomena.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)311-346
Number of pages36
JournalJournal of the Learning Sciences
Issue number3
StatePublished - May 26 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Education
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology


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