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[ecrea] call for chapters for edited book: Mediated Shame: Disparaging Poverty in Media and Popular Culture
Fri Apr 13 11:10:30 GMT 2018
CALL FOR CHAPTERS
Mediated Shame: Disparaging Poverty in Media and Popular Culture
Irena Reifová (Charles University, Prague)
Martin Hájek (Charles University, Prague)
The aim of the proposed book “Mediated Shame: Disparaging Poverty in
Media and Popular Culture” is to explore how media impose shame on and
facilitate shaming of economically underperforming people who have poor
living standards and belong to the lower class. Media-related shaming
practices gained momentum after reality television programs had set out
to film ordinary people in their everyday circumstances after 1990
(Redden, 2017), during the process Graeme Turner (2010) dubbed “demotic
turn”. Many scholars have observed coincidence between Reality TV´s
hayday after 1990 and consolidation of neoliberal rationality in Western
societies (McCarthy, 2007; Ouellette and Hay, 2008; Lyle, 2008; Skeggs
and Wood, 2012; Redden, 2017). It is neoliberal focus on self-managed
subjects taking responsibility into their hands, running themselves as
micro-corporations and doing without social cushion provided by the
state which was identified as homological with Reality TV´s capacity to
put those who fail in this game on an imaginary pillory (Hess and
Waller, 2014). Stigmatisation of the attributes which are found to be
upsetting, unsettling or threatening - such as being in the financial
hardships, using the consumer loans excessively, living on social
welfare, raising children in miserable material or hygienic condition -
is ever more common in convergent and multiplatform media culture.
Media shaming incentives are easily taken over and elaborated by the
online audiences and disseminated via their networked communication
channels in a viral way.
With regard to the above indicated focus of the book, we seek the
chapters outlining empirical research or theoretical reflections on the
manifestations and motivations of media-related shaming discourses and
narratives addressing poverty across various media types and genres.
We invite the chapters not limited to but including reflections on the
above stated questions and other relevant issues pertinent to the
emergence of poverty shaming in and through media. Who are producers
and targets of poverty shaming in the realm of media popular culture?
What specific facets of social positions and cultural identities are
being subjected to shaming discourses? Does shaming respond to the
particular frustrations and anxieties as endured by those who stoop to
shaming? How do media industry professionals understand and interpret
incorporation of shaming figures in the media outlets they develop and
produce? What semiotic means of stigmatizing poverty are used in
shaming? Does the shaming differ across societies? What are the
historical forerunners of mediatized shaming? Can we trace any
strategies of resistance or subversion of shaming?
Please, submit the abstracts of your chapters sticking to the following
Length of the abstract: 250-350 words
Submission deadline: 15 June, 2018
Submit to the address: (irena.reifova /at/ fsv.cuni.cz)
SOME INSPIRATION FOR ABSTRACT WRITING
The concept of mediated shaming
Shame is essentially a reflexive role-taking emotion anchored in
anticipating a disgraceful assessment made by the others (Shott, 1979).
This is why theoretical toolkit of symbolic interactionism is often used
in sociological accounts of shame, drawing especially on Cooley's
concept of “the looking glass self” (Cooley, 1902). Symbolic
interactionism places identity formation in the centre of reciprocity of
social interactions and explains formation of the self as a result of
looking at oneself from the perspective of the others (Mead, 1934).
Symbolic interactionists refer predominantly to interpersonal
communication as a means through which we gain awareness of the regards
of the others, but the model can be easily transcended to
technologically facilitated media communication (Madianou, 2012).
Furthermore, if people become an object of mediation, the way they are
socially perceived in not just imagined, sensed or anticipated, but
objectively evidenced, which makes mediated shame quite inescapable.
Some writers attribute an important role to shame – the toll to be paid
for deviating from the social norms or expectations – in preserving
conformity and social order (Turner and Stets, 2005) while others
underline that shaming can acquire the status of symbolic violence and
“policing” the otherness (Scheff, 1995). By the same token, Walker
(2014) suggests that shame should be understood also in the context of
Goffman´s (1963) concept of stigma.
In an environment of networked hostility being facilitated or directly
unleashed by the anonymity of online communication, the difference
should be made between hate speech and shaming (Brown, 2017). Hate
speech aspires to produce fear and feelings of being threatened whereas
shame aims at degradation and humiliation. Hate speech therefore may
take place in the privacy of interpersonal setting but effective shaming
is predicated on the fact that it is enacted in front of the real or
envisioned audience. Shaming is more effective if it takes place on
stage, in front of the eyes of the others. The idea of the “generalised
other”, our mental abstraction of the society´s gaze that matters and a
condition of any shaming, is activated more vigorously in the presence
of the existing others. Television programs and discussions on internet
and social networks augmenting the TV content provide this kind of stage
for rituals of humiliation.
The risk of being shamed increases as society turns ever more panoptical
(Foucault, 1977; Poster, 2013) with its cross-media technological
channels enabling thorough and almost permanent surveillance. Reality TV
programs (converging with post-broadcast on-line video outlets and
spread of viewers´ comments on the internet) made a significant
contribution to the enhancement of the logics of narcissism and
voyeurism, located at the other end of the panoptical polarity
(Andrejevic, 2004; Hill, 2005). Shame and shaming can be framed as the
dark side of the urge to be seen, observed and looked-at. On the other
hand, shaming practices should not be disposed of as the deserved
punishment for the actors struck by vanity and screen lust. It is also
the imperative to constantly evaluate (and disparage) the others deeply
embedded in the heart of assessment culture of contemporary neoliberal
society that should be considered among the sources of mediated and
media-enticed shame today.
The genres of shaming
In the study of mediated shaming of lower classes, attention has been
given predominantly to Reality Television programs, with emphasis on
makeover shows (Hirdman, 2015). Reality Television programs provide
close insights into the backstage of everyday realities, produce and
encourage various types of voyeuristic gazes fixed at what is deviating
from “normalcy”. This is grounded in more or less tacit
responsibilisation of the participants which goes hand in hand with the
above described neoliberal rationality. Within this process
responsibility for the miseries of life is assigned to the participants
themselves, it is hardly found in the external structural conditions.
The participants are classified as problem cases unable to perform up to
the expectations of consumer neoliberal society and consequently
confronted with the requirements to (re)establish the autonomy of
responsible, self-governing, self-disciplined subject. Sometimes they
even get guidance, counselling and couching by the TV-hired experts who
are supposed to help them to complete the mission of re-building the
subject. Along the way, they are denigrated for the destitute life they
have or lack of capacities to transform it. Reality TV is therefore
viewed as cultural technology of neoliberal society as it amplifies
neoliberal governmentality grounded in redirecting responsibilities,
decisions and choices from the state to the individual subjects
(Foucault, 2008). In neoliberal dictum, genuine neoliberal citizens
should be free of all possible governing, except their endless ability
to govern themselves (Heller, 2006; Lyle, 2008; McCarthy, 2007;
Ouellette and Hay, 2008; Redden, 2017; Skeggs and Wood, 2012).
Less exposed but equally important intersection between Reality TV and
neoliberal policy is in the prominence both give to the assessment
practices. Engines developed to evaluate and vote the participants out
of the game are applied widely across entire Reality TV format starting
from juries composed of celebrities (such as in X Factor, Freemantle
Media, UK) and going to the viewers´ texting their preferences via SMS
messages (such as in Big Brother, Endemol, NL). With its preoccupation
with assessment practices, Reality TV programs “repeat after” neoliberal
policies which deliver decisions not in style of direct, authority-based
resolutions but use various forms of audit, evaluation and review-process.
We are open to chapters which align with the main stream in the study of
mediated shame focusing on Reality Television programs but we also
actively seek the chapters dealing with the issue of shaming in less
prominent genres such as news programs (Hess and Waller, 2014), talk
shows and online communication or digital amateur photography. The
chapters looking at shaming practices on internet discussions or social
networks may focus on the internet and social networks discussions which
follow-up the preceding media programs as well as the stand-alone,
The dynamics of shaming and power
Analysis of mediated shaming significantly benefits from examination of
the relationship between shaming discourses and power in society.
Mediated shame focused on disparaging the lower classes - as produced
e.g. by Reality TV - is, according to many writers, cultural logic of
neoliberal governmentality. As such it represents top-down flow of
meanings deriving from the dominant neoliberal hegemony, which has been
sketched above. It should be underlined again that mediated shaming
embedded in or bolstered by the television gaze repeats the rationality
of (neo)liberal governing not through oppression and manipulation but
through freedom (Ouellette and Hay, 2008). The neoliberal citizens are
positioned as free-floating subjects in the individualistic environment
where there are no doctrines to manage and control them – with the
exception of the capillary doctrine compelling them to manage and
control themselves with their own capabilities, literacies and resources
(Foucault, 2008). Mediated shaming repeats the very same neoliberal
rationality by focusing on people´s imperfections, confronting them with
requests to improve themselves by self-management – and shaming them if
the projects of transformation of the selves come out awkward.
In contrast to the above described shaming discourses which victimise
the powerless (those who suffer from being socially and/or economically
weak or disadvantaged), shaming can be used also as a part of
anti-hegemonic dynamics when it is those in power who are shamed. The
anti-hegemonic line of shaming can be exemplified by the ways the
politicians are captured in slogans and on posters of the political
protests or as objects of cultural jamming genres (such as amateur
caricatures or visual pranks) on social networks. In these cases,
shaming follows a bottom-up strategy, as it is power-holders who are
shamed. Bottom-up shaming can be compared to the resistant (even
revolutionary) principle of the carnival as outlined by Bakhtin (1984).
We invite chapters on both articulations of shaming and power: the
conceptions which see the mediated shaming as hegemony-laden
stigmatisation of social misfits as well as those which put emphasis of
counter-cultural potential of shaming if aimed at the power-holders.
List of References:
Andrejevic, M., 2004. Reality TV: The Work of Being Watched. Lanham:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Bakhtin, M.M., 1984. Rabelais and His World. Bloomington: Indiana
Brown, A., 2017. What is so special about online (as compared to
offline) hate speech? Ethnicities, first published May 19, 2017.
Cooley, C.H., 1902. Human Nature and the Social Order. New York: Scribner's.
Foucault, M., 1977. Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison. New
York: Vintage Books.
Foucault, M., 2008. The Birth of Biopolitics: Lectures at the Collège de
France, 1978-1979. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan.
Goffman, E., 1963. Stigma: Notes on the Management of Spoiled Identity.
Englewood Cliffs, N.J., Prentice-Hall.
Heller, D., 2006. The Great American Makeover: Television, History,
Nation. Berlin: Springer.
Hess, K., Waller, L., 2014. The digital pillory: media shaming of
“ordinary” people for minor crimes. Continuum, 28(1): 101–111.
Hill, A., 2005. Reality TV: Audiences and Popular Factual Television.
New York: Routledge.
Hirdman, A., 2015. The passion of mediated shame: Affective reactivity
and classed otherness in reality TV. European Journal of Cultural
Studies, 19(3): 283–296.
Lyle, S.A., 2008. (Mis)recognition and the middle-class/bourgeois gaze:
A case study of Wife Swap. Critical Discourse Studies, 5(4): 319–330.
Madianou, M., 2012. News as a looking-glass: Shame and the symbolic
power of mediation. International Journal of Cultural Studies, 15(1): 3–16.
McCarthy, A., 2007. Reality Television: a Neoliberal Theater of
Suffering. Social Text, 25(4): 17–42.
Mead, G.H., 1934. Mind, Self, and Society: From the Standpoint of a
Social Behaviorist. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Ouellette, L., Hay, J., 2008. Better Living through Reality TV:
Television and Post-Welfare Citizenship. London: Wiley.
Poster, M., 2013. The Second Media Age. London: John Wiley & Sons.
Redden, G., 2017. Is Reality TV Neoliberal? Television & New Media,
first published September 12, 2017 .
Scheff, T.J., 1995. Editor’s Introduction: Shame and Related Emotions:
An Overview. American Behavioral Scientist, 38(8): 1053–1059.
Shott, S., 1979. Emotion and Social Life: A Symbolic Interactionist
Journal of Sociology, 84(6): 1317-1334.
Skeggs, B., Wood, H., 2012. Reacting to Reality Television: Performance,
Audience and Value. New York: Routledge.
Turner, G., 2010. Ordinary People and the Media: The Demotic Turn.
Turner, J.H., Stets, J.E., 2005. The Sociology of Emotions. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
Walker, R., 2014. The Shame of Poverty. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
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