The Springer Nature journal Theory and Society has just (pre)published an article by Kevin McCaffree and me on “Distributed effervescence: Emotional energy and social cohesion in secularizing societies.”
Abstract: Research suggests that societies are becoming more materially secure, less intensely
religious and that social interactions are increasingly computer mediated. However,
sociological theorists have not yet developed robust mechanistic theories explaining
how social cohesion might be generated under these new conditions. This is a notable
omission because scholars have demonstrated empirically that materially secure,
non-religious, people tend to be more individualistic, have more diverse networks,
and are less socially engaged than traditionally religious individuals (Zuckerman
et al., The nonreligious: Understanding secular people and societies, Oxford University
Press, 2016). Does the secularization of societies necessarily imply societal
instability, anomie, or isolation? If not, why not? Here, we posit the existence of a
continuum of modes of social cohesion that are characterized by a suite of historically
contingent variables which impact the volume, scope, and rate of human interactions.
This novel theory of “distributive effervescence” specifies how emotional
energy might be generated via punctuated interactions with heterogeneous others
across diverse settings.