The Age of Grief in the Time of Talk



Brownlie J (2009) The Age of Grief in the Time of Talk. Sociological Research Online, 14 (5).

Responding to Charles Tilly's call to map how individuals and groups encounter big structures or large processes, this article is concerned with experiences of one particular social process: the move towards emotional openess. Drawing on a mixed methods study of emotions talk, the article questions this 'en bloc' narrative of social change 'in our own time' (Tilly, 1984). In particular, through analysis of survey data, it highlights the life-stage and cohort effects shaping the experiences of those in their middle years, 'the age of grief'; and through indepth analysis of qualitative interviews, it embeds these effects in particular local contexts and relationships and within a particular historical time, the time of talk. In doing so, it concludes that while Tilly is right to suggest stories about social change do social work, he underestimates the extent to which they also offer crucial insight in to the nature of the social, particularly through the reckoning of relationships and their emotional legacies.

Experiences of Social Processes; Emotional Legacies; Emotional Culture; Mixed Methods

Sociological Research Online: Volume 14, Issue 5

Publication date30/11/2009
PublisherSAGE Publications