| 1 min read
This article explores what pollsters, journalists and politicians mean when they refer to the ‘mood’ of a nation, population or community. To what extent does the concept of mood resemble and differ from the notion of ‘public opinion’? It is argued that the ubiquity of mood-talk reflects a move away from the myth that political action is motivated by rational instrumentalism. Attention to mood takes seriously the force of pre-cognitive affectivity and its shaping of public disposition; the disorientating effects of diffuse globalism in which experiences and the feelings to which they give rise do not have obvious causes; and the emergence of new spaces in which affects travel and mutate freely, widely and rapidly. The article suggests that we are living in moody times in which attention to the public zeitgeist may be more important than polling responses to discrete issues.