Date of Award

Spring 2016

Document Type


First Advisor

Rebecca Overmyer-Velazquez


Defining human affect comprehensively has been a frustrating and ongoing project for scholars across many disciplines. The pieces discussed here view affect from different angles and define affect in similar but differing ways to suit the arguments being presented. Studies of affect have so far been abstract enough for there to not yet be a concrete definition of the term. One point of contention between differing views on affect is about whether or not affect can be authentic while still being manipulated. Affect is unarguably manipulated by the environment immediately surrounding the affective subject. But, as affect is often considered more natural than emotion, can it be moderated and if so, is it still authentic? Most of the research on affect has been based in psychology. Recently, however, work on affect has taken a cultural turn, with anthropologists using ethnographic methods to approach the cultural and interactional dimensions of this slippery subject. The very nature of affect is that it is vague, ever-shifting, and dialogical, making it a difficulty research topic. My study aims at trying to bring to the forefront more concrete interpretations and discussions of affect in day to day life, focusing specifically on a limited and circumscribed set of spaces, small-town coffee shops. In this controlled environment I will look at affect as “authentic” and as a product of deliberate manipulation (by management, corporate policy, etc.).


Access to this thesis is limited to the Whittier College community. Contact for additional information.

This document is currently not available here.