‘Being there’: multidimensionality, reflexivity and the study of emotional lives


email: julie.brownlie@stir.ac.uk


Emotional lives tend to be untidy. Yet despite a growing recognition of this, sociological research designs rarely mirror the multidimensionality they are striving to represent. This article takes as its starting point a recent study of beliefs and practices about emotional support and emotions talk in Britain, to illustrate how a methodologically mixed approach offers particular purchase on what passes between us in our everyday emotional lives and in research about these lives. The notion of ‘being there’ is drawn on to help make this argument. Moving between ‘being there’ as topic, a form of emotional support, and ‘being there’ as a methodological resource, the article concludes that the analytical claims we make about our emotional lives are strengthened through a methodologically mixed – and by necessity, reflexive – approach which explores, rather than smooths out, the ragged, sometimes indeterminate, edges between methods.