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Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool Audiobook, by Jennifer Jacquet Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Jennifer Jacquet Narrator: Jennifer Jacquet Publisher: Brilliance Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 2015 ISBN: 9781501201066
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An urgent, illuminating exploration of the social nature of shame, and of the ways in which it might be used, sparingly and pointedly, to promote political change and social reform.

In cultures that champion the individual, guilt is advertised as the cornerstone of conscience. Yet while guilt holds individuals to personal standards, it proves impotent in the face of corrupt corporate policies. In recent years, we have been asked to assuage our guilt about these problems as consumers, by buying organic foods or fair trade products, for example. Yet, unless nearly everyone participates, the impact of individual consumer consciousness is microscopic. Jennifer Jacquet persuasively argues that the solution to the limitations of guilt can be found in shame, retrofitted for the age of democracy and social media. She demonstrates how shaming can function as a nonviolent form of resistance that, in turn, challenges institutions, organizations, and even governments to actuate large-scale change. She argues that when applied in the right way, the right quantity, and at the right time, shame has the capacity to keep us from failing other species in life's fabric and, ultimately, ourselves.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “Contrasts the limits of guilt with the power of shame…Shameseeks to impose and enforce a broader standard, and that is what makes it so daunting and effective.”

    Washington Post

  • “An earnest call to employ chastisement for the greater good…Her arguments are backed by interesting research and her moral conviction is refreshing, particularly given how destructive the emotion she analyzes can be.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “[A] thought-provoking treatise on the soft power of opprobrium, and its important role in achieving social cohesion in an ever more individualized culture….The implicit message of Is Shame Necessary, about the importance of collective social responsibility, is timely and urgent—particularly about inequality and climate change.”


  • “Makes a strong case for the value of shaming for shaping and enforcing social norms…[and] makes a valuable contribution by drawing our attention to the potential value of this strategy whenever we seek to change how institutions behave.”

    New Scientist

  • “An incisive argument…[and] a powerful critique of the delusion that individual consumer choices can resolve large-scale social and environmental problems.”

    Chicago Tribune

  • “Documents, carefully, the problems inherent in Internet shaming: disproportionality, the disinhibition effect of anonymity, and the threats to privacy rights…In Jacquet’s view, shaming is a tool that can effectively regulate harmful acts for which there’s no official punishment.”

    Huffington Post

  • “An astute how-to and defense of shame.”

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Jacquet uses lively prose and keen insight to explore the myriad ways the shame game continues to impact our everyday lives…A sharp and surprising dissertation that puts the many facets of shame in a whole new light.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

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About the Author

Jennifer Jaquet is an assistant professor in the department of environmental studies at New York University. She is an environmental scientist interested in human cooperation, with specific interests in overfishing and climate change. In 2009 she was a visiting researcher at the conservation units of zoology at Cambridge University. Jacquet formerly wrote the guilty planet blog at Scientific American and contributes to