What Are Public Moods?

‘Public moods’ are often referred to in laymen’s accounts of public reactions to socialevents, yet the concept has rarely been invoked by social scientists. Taking public moodsseriously as an analytical concept, this article relies on recent work on the moods of individuals as a means of exploring the moods of the public. To be in a certain mood is to attune oneself to the situation in which one finds oneself. Our mood is the report we give on the state of our attunement. A public mood can either be understood as the mood of a certain age, the mood of an audience which jointly attends to a public per-formance, or the bonding which takes places between bodies which are in close physical proximity to each other. It is in the public mood that emotions, thoughts and plans for action arise.

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