Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research

Making sense of the social world


Feb 28
16:00 - 17:30
Feeling (with) the field: Affect, atmosphere and knowledge production
SSPSSR Staff and Postgraduate Research Seminars
Dr Marjo Kolehmainen, University of Tampere

The presentation engages with the issue of affective atmospheres in therapeutic cultures by drawing upon a detailed study of relationship and sex counselling in Finland. Its data consists of ethnographic investigations of 40 events, ranging from relationship enhancement seminars to a tantric workshop and from events catering to the recently separated to variously themed lectures. In particular, the presentation experiments methodologically with the use of the researcher-body to explore atmospheres, focusing on the researcher's own embodied sensations and affective states. Diverse experiences of soaking up atmospheres, moving in/out of affective atmospheres, feeling the limits of collective belonging, and failing to 'get' the atmosphere when conducting fieldwork are analysed in order to produce knowledge of the ways in which affective atmospheres come to matter. Atmospheres are approached from the perspective of new materialist ontology, which shifts the focus of analysis from the feelings of individualised subjects to impersonal flows of affect through assemblages. In this way, the presentationaims to use the lens of affective atmospheres to map how situational and material therapeutic practices operate in/through both human and non-human bodies, providing an attempt to move away from human-centred notions of the therapeutic. Finally, it argues that affective atmospheres also speak to the importance of understanding the therapeutic realm through collective experiences, in contrast with the preoccupation with the notion of the self that has been placed at the core of analysis of therapeutic cultures.

Dr Marjo Kolehmainen is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Tampere (Finland) and a Visiting Academic at the University of Kent (UK). She works in the Academy of Finland funded research project (287983) Just the Two of Us? Affective inequalities in intimate relationships. Her current research explores the practices of relationship and sex counselling. Her research interests include e.g. feminist and queer theory, embodiment, affective labour, therapeutic cultures and sensory and inventive methods. She has published in Feminist Media Studies, Sexualities,Subjectivity, Sociological Reviewand Body & Society, and is also a co-editor of a recent book Affective Inequalities in Intimate Relationships (Routledge Research in Gender and Society 2018).

Chair:  Carolyn Pedwell

No need to book


Seminar Room 2,
Cornwallis East
United Kingdom


Open to SSPSSR Staff and PGR students,


Contact: Eddy Hogg


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SSPSSR, Faculty of Social Sciences, Cornwallis North East, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent CT2 7NF

Last Updated: 04/12/2014