Embodying the nation: Collective emotions and national identification. Lessons from the 2010 FIFA World Cup (408)

By focusing on the FIFA World Cup 2010 we examine the reinforcing impact of collective emotions on national identification and feelings of group-belonging and the reducing effect on the evaluation of in-group minorities or out-groups.

What is the feeling of "belonging" to a social group or collective? How does it relate to nations and national identification? And how does it affect social action? Debates about these questions have a long tradition within the social sciences. However, the processes and mechanisms that underlie the construction and priorization of national and collective identity and the role of emotions therein remain unclear. This project investigates these issues by bringing together expertise from sociology, psychology and social neuroscience.

Sociological and social psychological theory suggests that collective emotions update and reinforce national identification and feelings of group-belonging while simultaneously reducing the evaluation of in-group minorities or out-groups. To verify these claims, we take the FIFA World Cup 2010 as a naturally occurring experimental setting that reliably elicits collective emotions within participating country’s nationals. We use questionnaires to assess national identification and out-group attitudes before and after the World Cup and measure collective emotions experienced during the event. In addition, we use neuroimaging (fMRI) and psychophysiological measures before and after the World Cup to investigate the impact of collective emotions on the affective salience of nation-related symbols (e.g., national flags). Finally, the project examines the actual behavioural implications of these effects. We use a "trust-game" before and after the World Cup in an fMRI paradigm with an in-group/out-group manipulation to probe the generalization of in-group favouritism from nation-related groups towards arbitrary groups.

Publications

Ismer, S. (2011). Embodying the nation: Football, emotions, and the construction of collective identity. Nationalities Papers.

Ismer, S. (2011). Fußball – Pop – Gemeinschaft: Musik in der medial-rituellen Konstruktion von Nation. Phleps, T., Reich, W. (Eds.). Musik-Kontexte. Festschrift für Hanns-Werner Heister. 377-388. Münster: Verlagshaus Monsenstein und Vannerdat.

Sullivan, G. B. (2011). Emotional foundationalism? Critical remarks on a phenomenological-psychoanalytic account of ethno-national identity. Ethnicities 11 (1). 123-130. doi:10.1177/1468796810388705

Sullivan, G. B. (2010). Expressions of pride and proud feelings. Freitas-Magalhães, A. (Ed.). Emotional expression: The brain and the face. Vol. 2. 173-201. Oporto: University Fernando Pessoa Press.