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Languages as a tool for affective societies

In short stories and novels, love, sadness, anger and hatred come to life in the written language. But can emotions also be a means of building knowledge and contribute to affective societies, Iryna Pinich, project researcher with a PhD in linguistics, is investigating.

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- My research lies in the borderland between sociology, philosophy and linguistics. What interests me are emotions as means of contributing to a so-called affective society. The thesis is about language, how language can manifest and arouse emotions in the reader. And by repeatedly doing that, it can establish the afficient society, that's my hypothesis, she says.

To approach and understand the role of emotions in language, she starts from British novels from the 18th-19th-20th centuries.

- It started with an interest in novels from the Victorian era, but then I got interested in modern English literature, too and when they were still available to me, I might as well study them too. I followed the trail, you could say, says Iryna Pinich.

Her research starts from a linguistic perspective and begins in discourse analysis, that is, how social organisation is presented in a certain way in a text. In this case, how the narrative around certain emotional attitudes is represented in the material. She will also study emotions based on how emotion terms representing different concepts can instill ideas about issues in society.

The focus is primarily not on aesthetics, even if it is woven into the work, she says. What she looks at is the occurrence of words that stand for certain emotional concepts and social structures. In this way, she wants to bypass the author's ideological influence, background and opinions.

- I want to try to call in this idea that emotions are not only constructed from above, but also the other way around. I also want to look at the relationship between the built-in and the socially prescribed, she says.

Iryna Pinich has come to Södertörn University within the framework of the Baltic Sea Foundation's support program for at-risk researchers and is now employed as a research assistant at the Department of Culture and Learning. She already sees how the research environment can both inspire and challenge her.

- I think it is a favorable environment that is friendly and open to my perspectives. It is an environment that welcomes me and my research. It is fantastic to connect with other people who broaden one's perspective, to build networks and I am grateful for my new colleagues who are interested in my research, says Iryna Pinich.


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