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Digital devices play a role in mediating the affects (Allard et al., 2017), but this phenomenon seems to be heightened on social network sites (SNSs) in times of bereavement: the uses observed in connection with a deceased person seem to suggest “that they play a role in apprehending one’s affects” (Papi, 2017). In line with the Deleuzian proposal, affectivity can be defined as that which affects “a capacity to feel emotions or bring them to life” (Allard et al., 2017). Affects are like forces that move signs and bodies. They circulate and help to “intensify” certain signs, which then become imbued with emotion (Ahmed, 2004). It nonetheless seems difficult to apprehend these emotions outside of their semiotization, outside of their expression in signs, and in discourse. The expression of feelings, states of mind or emotions constitutes some of the manifestations of the affects. They have no pre-discursive existence, have no specific locality, and are not attached to an object or subject, but can stick to objects in specific contexts through signs whose frequent association has been observed throughout history (archetypes, stereotypes, etc.) (ibid.). The use of signs charged with an emotional value helps to construct enunciative positions (of subjectivation), and using the same way of signifying an emotion can suggest the existence of an “emotional community”. In her study of “group” memorial pages on Facebook, Cathia Papi points out that the emotions expressed are more restrained than those felt, which supports the idea that emotions are expressed in the way that people think they should be shared rather than how they are actually felt (Papi, 2017)…

Virginie Julliard
Fanny Georges
Translated by
Gill Gladstone
Words in action
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