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Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old…
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Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool

by Jennifer Jacquet

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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, we as consumers have sought to assuage our guilt about flawed social and environmental practices and policies by, for example, buying organic foods or fair-trade products. Unless nearly everyone participates, however, the impact of individual consumer consciousness is ineffective.

Is Shame Necessary? presents us with a trenchant case for public shaming as a nonviolent form of resistance that can challenge corporations and even governments to change policies and behaviors that are detrimental to the environment. Jennifer Jacquet argues that public shaming, when it has been retrofitted for the age of social media and aimed in the proper direction, can help compensate for the limitations of guilt in a globalized world. Jacquet leaves us with a new understanding of how public shame, when applied in the right way and at the right time, has the capacity to keep us from failing other species in life’s fabric and, ultimately, from failing ourselves.

From the Hardcover edition.

Review

*Robert Sapolsky, author of Monkeyluv*
“In the age of Anthony Weiner and Miley Cyrus, shame seems an antiquated concept—a quaint tool of conformity-obsessed collectivist societies, replete with scarlet letters and loss of face. In this thought-provoking, wonderfully readable book, Jennifer Jacquet explores the psychology and sociology of shame. In the process, she argues that shaming is far from obsolete, and can be an effective weapon wielded by the weak against the strong.”

Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of **Flow
“Shame is no longer unfashionable, thanks to Jennifer Jacquet. This book describes, in sparkling prose, how important a sense of shame is to civilized life, and provides some fascinating insights as to the role of social media in providing a new tool to moderate shameless behavior.”

Sherry Turkle, author of Alone Together
“A book that gives shame a good name—and just in time—because it reinforces our better angels, cements our communities, and crucially, because our planet needs us to feel it. Well argued, beautifully written, sophisticated and down to earth.”

Nicholas Christakis, coauthor of Connected
“Our species had emotions before we had speech. And our emotions are social, not merely individual. Jacquet trenchantly and engagingly analyzes how we might resurrect one public emotion—shame—and put it to good use in our collective lives, influencing public discourse and public policy. Shame is relevant to everything from how we drive, to how we pay our taxes, to how we choose our food. And it is even useful, Jacquet satisfyingly shows, in constraining the acts of powerful individuals and enormous corporations.”

Joseph Henrich, co–director of the Center for Human Evolution, Cognition and Culture at University of British Columbia
“Deployed throughout human history to intimidate and punish those who threatened the cooperative harmony of small communities, shame has been increasingly left on the shelf in recent centuries, its immense powers deemed impolite and unnecessary. Now, Jennifer Jacquet not only skillfully re forges and sharpens this ancient emotional weapon, she gives us our first lessons on how to wield it. Polluters, exploiters and other global parasites beware, the human community has just rearmed.”

Brian Eno, Long Now Foundation
“This is a wonderful, important and timely book. It shows us that the glue that really holds society together is not laws and diktats but honour and shame. Among (many) other things, Jennifer Jacquet has identified and articulated the social tools by which it might just be possible to encourage better long term behaviour from those big players—like corporations—who are otherwise able to find their way round the law.”

Gawker.com, “The Best Books This Year Are All Written by Women: A Guide for 2015”
“[Jacquet’s] new book mines the possibilities of shame to be used as an agent for positive change. Where the book lands is as unexpected as it is revelatory.”

Publishers Weekly
“An astute how-to and defense of shame.”

About the Author

Jennifer Jacquet is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University. She works at the intersection of conservation and cooperation, focusing on the human dimensions of large-scale social dilemmas, such as overfishing and climate change. She formerly wrote for the Guilty Planet blog at Scientific American.
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  GalenWiley | Mar 25, 2015 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0307907570, Hardcover)

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, we as consumers have sought to assuage our guilt about flawed social and environmental practices and policies by, for example, buying organic foods or fair-trade products. Unless nearly everyone participates, however, the impact of individual consumer consciousness is ineffective.
 
Is Shame Necessary? presents us with a trenchant case for public shaming as a nonviolent form of resistance that can challenge corporations and even governments to change policies and behaviors that are detrimental to the environment. Jennifer Jacquet argues that public shaming, when it has been retrofitted for the age of social media and aimed in the proper direction, can help compensate for the limitations of guilt in a globalized world. Jacquet leaves us with a new understanding of how public shame, when applied in the right way and at the right time, has the capacity to keep us from failing other species in life’s fabric and, ultimately, from failing ourselves.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:21:59 -0400)

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