Friday, November 20, 2015

Is Shame Necessary?

I am indeed enjoying and learning a lot from the book Is Shame Necessary? by Jennifer Jacquet. It looks like it is, as guilt is a private emotion, and shame has public uses. Jacquet does not advocate a return to public shaming devices like the stocks, but she does explain how shame can function in changing social norms.

The thing that struck me this morning was a quotation from an Atlantic article, by Michael J. Sandel, about the market society as distinct from the market economy. Jacquet quotes Sandel saying, "The difference is this: A market economy is a tool---a valuable and effective tool---for organizing productive activity. A market society is a way of life in which market values seep into every aspect of human endeavor." Sigh.... Exactly!

This has been troubling me for some time. People are valued according to the amount of money they make, salary-wise, or money they bring in to an organization, even a non-profit organization, not according to their actual contribution of volunteer labor or organizational ideas or management or loyalty or care. Hence, often they are not valued at all, and are treated with disrespect or are valued less than, say, a "major donor" who might, say, give money but not actually attend the event, or complain about the seating or lighting.... See what I'm getting at? Hmm, it appears to be a Cranky Doodle Day in the blog. Put 'em in the stocks! (I'm missing a pun on stocks here. And thanks to Austen Redman for the image of stocks in Chapeltown, Lancashire, England!)

So, just to be clear, when I complain about the excesses of consumerism or capitalism, I guess I am talking about the "market society," the infiltration of money-based value into the rest of society and culture, not about the economic system itself, which has some things to commend it. But so does socialism. (I'm missing a Hillary pillory, feel the Bern joke here.)

2 comments:

Marcoantonio Arellano said...

i am all in with your perspective. in market society, most don't want to be burden with having to share or place value with human contributions other than monetary valued objects because if they accept any abstract human value gift they may have to reciprocate whereas accepting monetary value one doesn't necessarily have to give back. anyway that's my take.

in an analogous note: i would once again like to thankyou for your kind hearted gift to me a while back. my wife and i had experienced a devastating flood in our house where we lost a lot of valuable irreplaceable items which included many many books of mine and you boxed up some and sent them to me. i was just going through items in boxes that we are finally getting to and yours was one that reappeared.

con todo de mi coracon, gracias

Kathleen said...

Thanks for your views here, and I'm happy to have helped with books!