Jennifer Jacquet

Tuesday, April 21, 7:30 p.m.

Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool


"In the age of Anthony Weiner and Miley Cyrus, shame seems an antiquated concept--a quaint tool of conformity-obsessed collectivist societies, replete with scarlet letters and loss of face. In this thought-provoking, wonderfully readable book, Jennifer Jacquet explores the psychology and sociology of shame. In the process, she argues that shaming is far from obsolete, and can be an effective weapon wielded by the weak against the strong." -Robert Sapolsky, author of Monkeyluv.

In our culture of individuality, guilt is advertised as the cornerstone of conscience. Yet while guilt holds individuals to personal standards, it seems 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. But does the impact of individual consumer consciousness make a difference or is it too microscopic?

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.

“Shame is no longer unfashionable, thanks to Jennifer Jacquet. This book describes, in sparkling prose, how important a sense of shame is to civilized life, and provides some fascinating insights as to the role of social media in providing a new tool to moderate shameless behavior.” - Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, author of Flow

Jennifer Jacquet is an assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University. She works at the intersection of conservation and cooperation.

Event date: 
Tuesday, April 21, 2015 - 7:30pm
Event address: 
1010 El Camino Real
94025-4349 Menlo Park