Across cultures and historical eras, shame has been used in the service of advancing ideologies, beliefs and customs. We may like to think we have progressed beyond the
Across cultures and historical eras, shame has been used in the service of advancing ideologies, beliefs and customs. We may like to think we have progressed beyond the days of sentencing wrongdoers to be placed in stocks in the public square for ritualised humiliation at the hands of the public. Nevertheless there are those who have rediscovered the ‘use’ of shame in modern societies. Retributive punishment is being revisited, whilst online shaming, slut-shaming, fat-shaming are but a few examples of how the use of shame to compel, or discourage, particular behaviour continues to thrive in contemporary society. For shame to be effective, it is necessary for individuals to fear public scrutiny and negative judgement. There must also be sufficient consensus around the beliefs and practices that are deemed ‘good’ and those that are deemed to be ‘bad’ to provide a framework in which shame operates as a regulatory mechanism.
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