Discourse, affect and affliction

Eeva Sointu*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


While much recent theorizing into affect has challenged the primacy of discourse in understanding social life, this paper is premised on the intertwining of affective experience with discursive meaning. Furthermore, appreciating the entwining of affect and discourse facilitates broader understanding into the illness experience, medical decision-making and experiences of healing. Today, the biomedical discourse carries particular affective weight that can saturate experiences of affliction. Cultural understandings of disease similarly shape affect that may emerge in affliction. Social meaning, more specifically stereotypes pertaining to identities, interweave with emotion also in the context of medical practice. The doctor-patient relationship is an affect-laden encounter where the entwining of affect with social assumptions carries important, yet poorly understood, repercussions for treatment decisions and for the furthering of health inequalities. Both the elusiveness and the power of affect that unfolds in relation to discursive meaning rest on the way in which affect dwells in and resounds through the body.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)312-328
Number of pages17
JournalThe Sociological Review
Issue number2
Early online date15 Sept 2015
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2016

Bibliographical note

© 2015 The Author. This is an author-produced version of the published paper. Uploaded in accordance with the publisher’s self-archiving policy. Further copying may not be permitted; contact the publisher for details


  • Affect
  • Discourse
  • Doctor-patient relationship
  • Healing
  • Illness experience

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