Emotional regimes and feeling rules in Swedish feminist comics : Breaking or abiding by the rules?

University essay from Stockholms universitet/Sociologiska institutionen

Abstract: This study examines how Swedish feminist comic artists express emotional regimes and feeling rules as displayed by comic characters. Guided by Arlie Russell Hochschild’s understanding of feeling rules and emotion management together with Erving Goffman’s decoding behavior methodology this study seeks to contribute to a deeper understanding of gender emotion management norms. The study uses triangulation, combining analyzes of five semi-structured interviews with Swedish feminist comic artists and visual analysis of roughly 130 comic panels from a selection of Swedish feminist comic books. The findings indicate that Swedish feminist comic artists question and challenge existing feeling rules and, render new visual representations of male and female’s emotion management through their comic characters. Four character design techniques are found (1) mirroring, (2) non-stereotypical representation, (3) removing the male gaze, and (4) not emphasizing differences between male and female characters. A unique connection between expected emotion management and comic character’s body type is also found. This new finding implies that emotions and body type might be important to examine in future research. Unlike previous studies, the visual analysis suggests that emotion and gender need to be examined through several instruments to gain a more nuanced result. The findings motivate treating comics as a culturally significant source of data for future research.

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