Emotions and the History of Business
Mandy Cooper (UNC-Greensboro) and Andrew Popp (Copenhagen Business School)
We are developing a proposal for an edited volume on emotions and the history of business and seek further contributions. In the first instance, the proposal will be submitted to a series on the history of emotions edited by Peter Stearns and Susan Matt and published Bloomsbury.
Why emotions and the history of business?
A small but growing body of work has already begun to demonstrate the potential in bringing the histories of emotions and of business into greater dialogue. We aim to more fully and systematically explore that potential through this proposed volume. What does bringing emotions in add to the history of business? Does business not inhabit a world of rationality? We firmly believe that from individual entrepreneurs to family firms to massive corporations, businesses have in many ways relied on, leveraged, generated, and been shaped by emotions for centuries. Examining business in all its facets through the lens of the history of emotion allows us to recognize the emotional structures behind business decisions and relationships and to question them. The very presence—or absence—of emotions and emotional language have the power to alter the structure and content of relationships between individuals and between businesses and communities. This collection asks what happens when emotions and emotional situations, whether fear/anxiety, nostalgia, love, or the longing of distance and separation, affect businesses and, in turn, how businesses affect the emotional lives of individuals and communities. In terms of framing, therefore, we emphasize the work that emotions do and recognize the performative nature of emotions.
We do not wish to impose any restrictions in terms of geographic or temporal scope and would strongly welcome proposals from or on the Global South. Existing work in this area has often focused on emotions in family firms, but we welcome proposals across the full range of potential business settings and contexts. Likewise, much work in the history of emotions has adopted micro-historical perspectives and methodologies; we would particularly welcome work exploring emotions in large or macro-scale business contexts or phenomena, market crashes (or booms) being only the most obvious possibility. Similarly, we are open to studies utilizing the full range of historical sources and methodologies. Studies exploring change in the relationships between emotions and business over time will be warmly welcomed, as will studies exploring the relationship between race, gender, and business. Proposals may well be themed around a specific emotion, but that is not the only approach imaginable. Naturally, proposals from across a wide range of cognate disciplines – economic history, the history of capitalism, cultural and social history, material history and more – are most welcome.
A far from exhaustive list of possible themes might include:
- Gendered and/or racialized emotion and business
- Fear and anxiety
- Rationality as an emotion
- Identity formation/the self/authenticity
- Contagion, risk, and panic
- Business as drama
- The forms of expression of business emotions: language, sites, rites, rituals, symbols
- Cultural representations of business emotions
- Commemoration and history as emotions
- Emotions as commodities
- Alienation and estrangement
Please send proposals of no more than 500 words to firstname.lastname@example.org by July 31st 2020. Please include a brief biography of all authors, as well as contact details. Proposals should seek to present setting, theme, perspective or framing, and sources and methods. Please use the same email address to approach us with any questions or queries.
Lecturer, Department of History UNC-Greensboro
Professor of history, Department of Management, Politics, and Philosophy Copenhagen Business School
 See, for example, the special issue on “Emotions et Enterprises Familiales,” Enterprises et Histoire, No. 91 (2018)