The Paradoxes of Capitalism and Emotions

Lucerne Master Class for PhD Students at the University Luzern on September 23–27, 2019

The Scholar:

EVA ILLOUZ was born in Morocco, educated in France, and received her higher degrees from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem and the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She is Rose Isaac Chair of Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and a member of the Center for the Study of Rationality, and holds a Chair of Excellence at the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris. Her groundbreaking oeuvre on capitalism and emotions includes her monograph Why Love Hurts: A Sociological Explanation (2012), a book she edited titled Emotions as Commodities: Capitalism, Consumption and Authenticity (2018) and her forthcoming monograph Unloving: A Sociology of Negative Relations (first published in German under the title Warum Liebe endet – Eine Soziologie negativer Beziehungen [2018]).

The Topic:

For economists capitalism is the organization of economic exchange in a marketplace regulated by supply and demand in which actors plan their moves rationally. For traditional sociologists it is a social organization which disentangles the economy from normative systems and creates a vast process of rationalization of the economy and of ordinary action. But capitalism has proved to be – and curiously so – a fantastic machine to produce, control, and commodify emotions. The process of commodification of emotions is pervasive and endemic to the history and sociology of capitalism. This Lucerne Master Class will examine the ways in which emotions were made into intrinsic dimensions of the workplace and of the consumer sphere. It examines this process by studying paradoxes produced by this historical juncture of emotions and capitalism. For a list of the five main paradoxes identified that will be discussed, please consult the longer version of the topic’s abstract on

The Class:

The class will begin on September 23rd, 2019at 1p.m.and end on September 27th, 2019at 1 p.m. The daily schedule will be from 9.00 a.m.–12.30p.m.and from 2p.m.-6p.m. and on one evening (lecture & dinner) from 6–9p.m. One of the afternoons will be devoted to a joint excursion in the Lucerne area. Participants will discuss Eva Illouz’s recent work but also present and discuss their own projects.


The Master Class addresses doctoral students from sociology, cultural studies, philosophy, psychology, and economics as well as other fields from within the humanities and social sciences. Applications from international and EU doctoral students and doctoral students from Switzerland are welcome.


Tuition fee: 350 CHF

The organizing body of the Master Class, the Graduate School of Humanities and Social Sciences (GSL) at the University of Lucerne, will cover catering and accommodation expenses. The GSL will also reimburse parts of participants’ travel expenses in proportion the distance they are traveling (for details please send an e-mail to christina.cavedon(at)unilu(dot)ch [managing director GSL]). Applicants mustering financial support from their home institution is greatly appreciated.


Send your application by May 1st to the following email-address: christina.cavedon(at)unilu(dot)ch Please provide a short statement of motivation (no more than one page), a CV and a short description (no more than one page) of your current dissertation project. Postdocs may be admitted on the basis of individual decision. More information:


The Master Class is supported by the Mercator Foundation Switzerland.

Call for Applications (PDF)