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Democracy and the Death of Shame
Political Equality and Social Disturbance

$27.99 (G)

  • Author: Jill Locke, Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota
  • Date Published: June 2017
  • availability: Available
  • format: Paperback
  • isbn: 9781107635906

$ 27.99 (G)

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About the Authors
  • Is shame dead? With personal information made so widely available, an eroding public/private distinction, and a therapeutic turn in public discourse, many seem to think so. People across the political spectrum have criticized these developments and sought to resurrect shame in order to protect privacy and invigorate democratic politics. Democracy and the Death of Shame reads the fear that 'shame is dead' as an expression of anxiety about the social disturbance endemic to democratic politics. Far from an essential supplement to democracy, the recurring call to 'bring back shame' and other civilizing mores is a disciplinary reaction to the work of democratic citizens who extend the meaning of political equality into social realms. Rereadings from the ancient Cynics to the mid-twentieth century challenge the view that shame is dead and show how shame, as a politically charged idea, is disavowed, invoked, and negotiated in moments of democratic struggle.

    • Bridges theoretical and social movements accounts of shame and shaming
    • Proposes a new way of understanding the political discourse of shame in the contemporary landscape
    • Provides much-needed historical context for conversations about shame and shaming
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    Reviews & endorsements

    "Jill Locke has a big point to make about the recurring role that what she calls 'the lament that shame is dead' plays in stifling expressions of genuine democracy. But she is also highly attuned to the subtle differences that have governed the nature and effects of this lament in different cultural and political contexts, from ancient Greece to twentieth-century Little Rock, making Democracy and the Death of Shame an exemplary work of scholarship at the intersection of political theory and history."
    Sophia Rosenfeld, Yale University

    "Jill Locke has written a great book in political theory. From the Ancient Greeks to Rousseau to Andrew Jackson to Hannah Arendt, she traces what she calls the 'lament': those outside of the political mainstream become 'shameless' in their desire for change. With great subtlety and careful research, Locke defends those who would bring new issues to democratic politics and forces us to rethink our standard views about what emotions should count in politics."
    Joan C. Tronto, University of Minnesota

    "In this extraordinary and profound book, Locke argues that egalitarian political moments have throughout history provoked laments from elites that shame is dead. Working as a historian, Locke offers us a genealogy of this 'lament'; working as a political theorist, she offers a powerful cautionary tale to those who hope to tap into shame in pursuit of egalitarian ends."
    Danielle Allen, Harvard University

    'Responding to what she describes as calls to ‘bring back shame’ in an era of social media and ‘therapeutic public discourse’, Locke argues that such calls regularly occur at moments when citizens of democracies seek to exert their political equality in public ways.' Survival: Global Politics and Strategy

    'Democracy and the Death of Shame is an insightful and timely work, engaging with many contemporary debates regarding the politics of shame. It will be of interest to feminist scholars, political theorists, and philosophers who are concerned with shame and its role in history and politics.' Luna Dolezal, Hypatia Reviews Online (

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    Product details

    • Date Published: June 2017
    • format: Paperback
    • isbn: 9781107635906
    • dimensions: 230 x 153 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.34kg
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Part I. Shame's Allure: Introduction. The mythology of Aidōs
    1. The lament that shame is dead
    Part II. Unashamed Citizens:
    2. 'A Socrates gone mad': Plato's lament and the threat of cynic shamelessness
    3. Rousseau's pariahs, Rousseau's laments: pudeur and the authentic ideal in revolutionary France
    Part III. Contamination and Lamentation:
    4. Furious democracy: nineteenth-century 'slut shaming', Indian removal, and the ascent of the 'ill-bred' man
    5. Arendt's lament: the death of shame and the rise of political children
    Conclusion. Is shame necessary?

  • Author

    Jill Locke, Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota
    Jill Locke is a Professor of Political Science at Gustavus Adolphus College, Minnesota.

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