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DOI 10.12887/30-2017-2-118-05

Mateusz SZUBERT – Shame in Cultural Discourse

Cena brutto: 7,00 PLN za szt.

Shame is an extremely dynamic emotion, but also a functional one. It grows in a human as a result of the internalization of moral and social norms. The article addresses the question of the timeliness of shame (and emotions related to it, such as confusion, embarrassment, awkwardness, and infamy) in contemporary culture and discusses the boundaries between shamelessness and prudishness. The author analyzes the language used to describe shame in the past as well as in the present, pointing out to certain research problems it entails, such as how to talk about shame without transgressing the taboo.

The article encompasses an analysis of the practices employed in modern culture that result in destabilizing the human body and human corporeality. In the late 1950’s, the concept of shame, which was traditionally associated with the areas of morality and ethics, began to refer to a state of embarrassment associated with the body, and since that time the tendency to perceive shame in this way has been increasing. As such, shame is tantamount to a state of mental disharmony resulting from non-conformity to specific patterns, ideals or expectations. Today, a frequent reason for shame is one’s conviction of one’s own unattractiveness.

The contemporary Western culture, which perceives itself as ‘revolutionary,’ abolishes all sorts of taboo and tends to get rid of shame as a social phenomenon. The media significantly stretch the borders of the content that can be displayed to spectators or to readers. Exposition of intimate details of human life, resulting in a violation of the good taste, has become a norm in the case of not only tabloids, but also the mainstream media, thus generating an increase in the viewing figures and sales.

Another factor causing the feeling of shame in the modern society is gerontophobia. Today’s culture of the West equates old age with a frightening time of the triumph of biology over the human spirit. In the popular perception, old age is now reduced to the level of somatic and mental disorders associated with the period in a person’s life which is as much embarrassing as unwanted.

Keywords: shame, stigma, taboo, intimacy, ageing, illness, exclusion

Contact: Katedra Kulturoznawstwa i Folklorystyki, Instytut Polonistyki i Kulturoznawstwa,
Wydział Filologiczny, Uniwersytet Opolski,
pl. Kopernika 11,
45-040 Opole, Poland

E-mail: mszubert@uni.opole.pl
Phone: +48 77 5416003

Pliki do pobrania:

» 118_Szubert.pdf

  1. ISSN 0860-8024
  2. e-ISSN 2720-5355
  3. The Republic of Poland Ministry of Science and Higher Education Value: 100.00
  4. Quarterly “Ethos” is indexed by the following databases: EBSCO, CEEOL, Index Copernicus (ICV 2017: 55.26), Philosopher’s Index, ERIH Plus.
  5. DOI Prefix 10.12887