Shame and Its Political Consequences in the Age of Neoliberalism

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

Abstract

In this chapter, I suggest that shame is a "master emotion" of contemporary neoliberal societies and an essential part of emotional mechanisms that motivate support for populist political parties, especially for the political right in both Europe and the United States. I first argue that typical instances of shame are both individual and social as they involve an appraisal of a failure to live up to the values constitutive of one´s social identity, whose constitutive values are shared with others who share the same social identity. Second, I argue that contemporary neoliberal societies promote feelings of insecurity, powerlessness, and worthlessness, as well as fears of losing status and established living standards that give rise to actual or anticipatory shame, both in work and other domains of social life that have adopted a competitive logic. Finally, I identify, drawing from my previous work (Salmela & von Scheve, 2017), two emotional mechanisms that may have contributed to the rise of right-wing political populism in contemporary neoliberal societies. The first mechanism is ressentiment—the repression and transmutation of negative self-focused emotions, particularly shame, into anger, resentment, or hatred—which are directed at out-groups, such as political and cultural elites, refugees, immigrants, and the long-term unemployed, who are perceived as threats to the social identities of the shame-ridden subjects. The second mechanism is emotional distancing from social identities that inflict shame and other negative self-focused emotions, and instead seeking meaning and self-esteem from other social identities that are perceived to be stable and, to some extent, exclusive (such as nationality, ethnicity, religion, language, and traditional gender roles).
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInterdisciplinary Perspective on Shame: Methods, Theories, Norms, Cultures, Politics
EditorsCecilea Mun
PublisherLexington Books
Publication date2018
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 2018
MoE publication typeA3 Book chapter

Cite this

Salmela, M. E. M. (Accepted/In press). Shame and Its Political Consequences in the Age of Neoliberalism. In C. Mun (Ed.), Interdisciplinary Perspective on Shame: Methods, Theories, Norms, Cultures, Politics Lexington Books.
Salmela, Mikko Erkki Matias. / Shame and Its Political Consequences in the Age of Neoliberalism. Interdisciplinary Perspective on Shame: Methods, Theories, Norms, Cultures, Politics. editor / Cecilea Mun. Lexington Books, 2018.
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Salmela, MEM 2018, Shame and Its Political Consequences in the Age of Neoliberalism. in C Mun (ed.), Interdisciplinary Perspective on Shame: Methods, Theories, Norms, Cultures, Politics. Lexington Books.

Shame and Its Political Consequences in the Age of Neoliberalism. / Salmela, Mikko Erkki Matias.

Interdisciplinary Perspective on Shame: Methods, Theories, Norms, Cultures, Politics. ed. / Cecilea Mun. Lexington Books, 2018.

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapterScientificpeer-review

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Salmela MEM. Shame and Its Political Consequences in the Age of Neoliberalism. In Mun C, editor, Interdisciplinary Perspective on Shame: Methods, Theories, Norms, Cultures, Politics. Lexington Books. 2018