ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Political in Shame

The questions and challenges of our times have thrown up emotions such as shame at the centre of both social and public life. But there seems to be not enough engagement in the discipline of political science to understand emotions in their own right. The central concern of this paper is the question of the political in shame. Is shame political? How is shame as an everyday emotion distinct from, similar to, or constitutive of the shame as political? The paper tries to engage with the emotion theory and bring out the characteristics of shame both as an emotional as well as political concept. Shame instances from the Indian politicalscape are used. It has been argued that shame is a moral emotion. Shame is political (repository of power), localised (experienced in the immediate), learnt (acquired through observation and habit formation), and social (exists through externalities, not as something that is limited to individuals). It is political in the sense that it uses the same language as power and is used rather effectively to create fixed hierarchies. Shame is political in its formulation, processes, and consequences with profound bearings on democratic and decent societies.
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