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Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool

3.41  ·  Rating Details ·  87 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
An urgent, illuminating exploration of the social nature of shame and of how it might be used to promote large-scale political change and social reform.

In cultures that champion the individual, guilt is advertised as the cornerstone of conscience. But while guilt holds individuals to personal standards, it is powerless in the face of corrupt institutions. In recent years
Hardcover, 224 pages
Published February 17th 2015 by Pantheon
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May 25, 2015 Aiyana rated it really liked it
Pretty interesting stuff. The author makes an important distinction between shame (a tactic that can be used to influence corporations, groups, or political groups) and guilt (something that only individuals can feel). She also asks the reader to consider separately the usefulness of shame in enforcing social norms and the possibility that those norms themselves are problematic.

She notes that, by shifting the focus of environmental responsibility from producers to consumers, corporations have c
Easy-to-read, well-organized, and teeming with interesting examples, Jacquet's book was more than worth my time. It is too bad that it was overshadowed by more-famous Jon Ronson's similar book published at the same time...but maybe it got more attention for being part of a movement. Who knows -- but I recommend this book heartily.

Jacquet, an NYU professor, starts her examination of the use of moral conscience with important definitions/distinctions that would satisfy a philosopher: shame ("expos
Rob Eames
Sep 19, 2015 Rob Eames rated it liked it
Short introduction to the distinction between guilt & shame, and the ways in which shame can be useful & necessary to motivate conformance to norms. Most of us inherit the equipment of our human incarnation including feelings of shame. The author does a nice job of exploring examples in environmental stewardship and climate change. Examples are used that when decision-makers know that their identity and respective decisions will be made known to a larger group about which they care about ...more
Apr 29, 2015 Anthony rated it liked it
Explores the role shame plays in prompting social change, replete with numerous examples from environmental and social development contexts. Jacquet does not offer satisfying evidence of where guilt, anguish, social disapproval, and regret ends and where shame begins. While she offers anecdotal evidence that shaming corporations or shaming law-breakers is effective (selective description, since the ineffective shamings are not described), she doesn't persuasively indicate how effective shame ...more
Jun 13, 2016 Maura rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
I picked this up because I read "So You've Been Publicly Shamed", about the phenomena of internet shaming (mostly against it) a while ago and wanted to see if this would offer another perspective.

Jacquet also agrees that internet shaming of the individual is (usually) wrong but offers a compelling argument that it's a tool which society should resurrect in order to deal with corporations. The book argues that individual guilt has serious limits when it comes to dealing with social problems. Whe
May 01, 2016 Selena rated it really liked it
I learned that shame is a useful tool in situations where: the transgression concerns the audience, behavior deviates widely from the desired behavior, and a person is not expected to be formally punished. The transgressors should be part of the group doing the shaming. The shaming should come from a respect source and be directed where possible benefits are the highest and be implemented "conscientiously" (p100).

The big mind melting idea in the first chapter is about how we have a bias toward
Fan Liu
Feb 21, 2016 Fan Liu rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Is Shame Necessary was a pretty interesting, informative read. It shows the difference between shame (breach of society’s moral values, high audience scrutiny) vs. guilt (personal and individualized standards of behavior, internalized). It shows how the Westernized conception of guilt is faulty. It also gives examples of how we can use shame to not ostracize people, but to change their default codes of action. It cites several examples in big corporations, the eco-green movement (primarily ...more
Oct 16, 2015 Richard marked it as to-read-3rd
Recommended to Richard by:
Two recent books about shaming, this one and So You've Been Publicly Shamed , are discussed together in this excellent blog post: Is Shame Necessary? How About Public Shaming? .
An urgent exploration of the social nature of shame and of the ways in which we may utilize shame for political, economic, and social reform. Unlike guilt, which is an internal voice that nags its owner and emphasizes an individual experience, shame, Jacquet argues, is the way that we can challenge institutions, organizations, and even governments in order to actuate large-scale change. Interesting.
Oct 25, 2015 Daphne rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: book-club
Has some interesting snippets and makes you think about the meanings and differences between guilt (internal) and shame (external), but is unclear in its conclusion. I think it's (spoiler alert) "yes, we do need shame", but done properly.
Feb 10, 2015 CMack rated it really liked it
Accessible and enjoyable. Not about personal individual shame, more cultural and societal. Good exploration on technology's role in modem shaming as well. Will make you stop and think about what's in your daily Jon Stewart.
Apr 17, 2015 Jennifer rated it liked it
A quick, concise read on the nature of shame, its uses in the past, and where it might be of value in the future. Fascinating at times, but by no means a definitive work.
Tina Panik
May 17, 2015 Tina Panik rated it liked it
After a slow start, this book does a good job of differentiating between shame and guilt in modern society. The chapters on internet scandals and behavior are the most relevant and valuable.
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