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The emotional politics of social work and child protection$
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Joanne Warner

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9781447318422

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: September 2015

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447318422.001.0001

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Introducing emotional politics

Introducing emotional politics

(p.1) One Introducing emotional politics
The emotional politics of social work and child protection

Joanne Warner

Policy Press

After briefly setting out the background and context for the book, this chapter considers in detail how the concept of emotional politics can be understood in theoretical terms. As in the book as a whole, the chapter draws on literature from a wide range of sources and disciplines, including social work, sociology, cultural studies, politics, social policy, and criminology. The chapter shows how the concept of emotional politics relates to other key conceptual and theoretical areas including risk, social class, gender and ‘race’. It highlights how emotions are political by analysing the meaning and cultural significance of collective responses to a child’s suffering. It argues that news stories about children’s deaths can be understood as myths that have a particular meaning in cultural terms. Politics is emotional, the chapter argues, by virtue of the increased emotionalisation of politics and the premium placed on empathy with voters. Political leaders play a key role in reflecting or generating emotional responses to events. The chapter also analyses the relationship between politics, the emotions and risk; particularly the concern of politicians to manage reputation risk arising from policy failures. The final section of the chapter outlines the structure of the book as a whole.

Keywords:   emotional politics, emotional regime, politics, suffering, child, emotionalisation of politics, feeling rules, news stories, myth

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