Selling the Emotional Self
Critical Theorist Eva Illouz offers a cultural historical revision to our understandings of the relationship between emotions, capitalism, and psychological discourse. Her conception of emotional capitalism links the fundamental convergence of notions of self in modernity as both subject of emotional exploration and objectified commodity. A recent article (see below) about how to sell yourself using Internet technology exemplifies the naturalized use of psychological and self-help discourse as a means to understand oneself and to sell oneself in the marketplace. In particular, this article demonstrates the instrumentalization of identity for capitalist purposes. According to Illouz, the use of psychology as a means of constructing an emotionally healthy identity has now become a way of accessing social competence or, in a Bourdieuian sense, a new means to social capital. The use of Internet technology exacerbates this process through a disembodied experience of having to express and articulate the self through text and photos that are mediated through the language of “selling oneself.” In other words, the self through an emotional exploration becomes a commodity on the open market.