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Shaming and Stigma: A Study in Social Hierarchy

Allison, Euan Russell; (2023) Shaming and Stigma: A Study in Social Hierarchy. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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What is stigma? Do disparate examples of stigma belong to a unified social kind? I propose a novel account which I call the ‘Shaming Model’: an individual is stigmatized in a community if she is shamed by members of that community, and this is explained by their belief that she has deviated from some social norm and/or standard. This contrasts with the view that stigmas are an aggregate of negative attitudes held about the stigmatized individual. It also forces us to reject certain existing general accounts of the nature of social hierarchy – and revise others – in order to accommodate stigma as a hierarchical phenomenon. What, if anything, is morally troubling about stigmas as such? A common claim is that stigmatized people are not treated as individuals. I defend a particular interpretation of this idea. When we are stigmatized, and thus stereotyped, this does not merely fail to respect our autonomy. Being stigmatized also threatens to undermine our interests as ‘self-presenting’ beings, because stigmas are a feature of our (the stigmatized person’s) social world as a whole. I argue, on the basis of this account, that some cases of treating as superior can be just as morally troubling as stigma. In a separate chapter, I unpack the relationship between shame, stigma, and a liberal commitment to anti-stigma. Amongst philosophers who object to social hierarchy, several have tried to offer a completely general account of the moral significance of social relations being unequal. I argue that we should reject this strategy for critiquing hierarchies, and for distinguishing between hierarchies which are problematic and those which are unproblematic. Instead, we should pursue a ‘Disaggregative Strategy’ according to which the essential features of particular kinds of hierarchy (such as stigma) make a large difference to the reasons why hierarchy is problematic (when it is).

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: Shaming and Stigma: A Study in Social Hierarchy
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © The Author 2023. Original content in this thesis is licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International (CC BY-NC 4.0) Licence (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc/4.0/). Any third-party copyright material present remains the property of its respective owner(s) and is licensed under its existing terms. Access may initially be restricted at the author’s request.
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > UCL SLASH > Faculty of Arts and Humanities > Dept of Philosophy
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10180159
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