The logistics of fear: violence and the stratifying power of emotion

Author: Ana Villarreal1
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  • 1 Boston University, , USA
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This article contributes to growing sociological interest in theorising fear by providing cross-class evidence of what people do when they are afraid and how their emotion strategies matter for broader inequalities. Drawing on and extending pragmatist approaches to the study of emotion, I conceptualise the logistics of fear as the strategies that people employ to manage fear when prompted by a large-scale threat at the societal level. I argue that fear in such contexts can quickly exacerbate inequality by means of the unequal resources people draw on to solve or manage fear on a daily basis. Drawing on qualitative fieldwork conducted in the midst of a violent criminal war in urban Mexico, I trace the restructuring of metropolitan nightlife as a three-stage process: destruction, dispersion, and classed re-concentration. Attention to classed variations in emotion strategies over time provides evidence of the destructive and creative facets of fear, as well as of its stratifying power. More broadly, this research puts forth a pragmatist approach to the study of emotion that centres emotion as a problem and social process.

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  • 1 Boston University, , USA

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