Author (Your Name)

Avery MunnsFollow

Date of Award


Document Type

Honors Thesis (Open Access)


Colby College. Education Program


Mark Tappan

Second Advisor

Christel Kesler


Emotions are largely viewed as individual and internal, but in reality, emotions are socially situated. This project aims to use a sociology of emotions framework in order to explore how emotional expectations are created, maintained, and navigated within a classroom environment. Through a series of observations over the course of a month, I set out to answer questions surrounding which emotions were encouraged, which emotions were discouraged, and how both teachers and students created and navigated these feeling rules. Overall, I found that emotions were largely discouraged, especially through the overarching feeling rules of “be quiet” and “control your body.” Specifically, individual emotions like excitement, anger, frustration, worry, and sadness were commonly discouraged. On the other hand, social emotions such as repentance and compassion were frequently praised. Teachers used a number of strategies to uphold these feeling rules. These strategies ranged from unsupportive of students’ emotional experiences, like threats, to neutral strategies like preventative feeling rule reminders, and finally to positive strategies such as showing empathy and teaching students skills to self-regulate. Students were not passive recipients of these feeling rules; instead, they participated in moments of compliance and resistance, and they used emotions in order to navigate the classroom’s social hierarchy. This project concludes with implications for educators, including recommending greater support for emotional expressions within the classroom and addressing emotions first before controlling behavior.


sociology of emotions, emotion management, feeling rules, feeling rule reminders