Shame-honor culture

“most recently, establishing a set of neo-Victorian, neo-Augustinian rules and attitudes regarding sex”….This relates to the analysis by Haidt, Campbell, and Manning re the transition of moral cultures. In brief: prior to the 18th and 19th century, most Western societies were *cultures of honor*, in which people were expected to avenge insults on their own–and would lose social respect and position should they fail to do so. The West then transitioned to *cultures of dignity*, in which “people are assumed to have dignity and don’t need to earn it. They foreswear violence, turn to courts or administrative bodies to respond to major transitions, and for minor transgressions they either ignore them or attempt to resolve them by social means. There’s no more dueling.” The spirit of this type of culture could be summarized by the saying “sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”

Campbell and Manning assert that this culture of dignity is now giving way to a new *culture of victimhood* in which people are encouraged to respond to even the slightest unintentional offense, as in an honor culture. But the difference, Haidt explains is this:

“But they must not obtain redress on their own; they must appeal for help to powerful others or administrative bodies, to whom they must make the case that they have been victimized.” Campbell and Manning distinguish the three culture types as follows:

“Public complaints that advertise or even exaggerate one’s own victimization and need for sympathy would be anathema to a person of honor – tantamount to showing that one had no honor at all. Members of a dignity culture, on the other hand, would see no shame in appealing to third parties, but they would not approve of such appeals for minor and merely verbal offenses. Instead they would likely counsel either confronting the offender directly to discuss the issue, or better yet, ignoring the remarks altogether.”

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