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Digital Subscriptions > Skeptic > 23.2 > Honor, Dignity, Victim

Honor, Dignity, Victim

A review of The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars by Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning.

Palgrave Macmillan.

278 pp. $34.99

ISBN-13: 978-3319703282

A Tale of Three Moral Cultures

Sociologists Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning have produced the first systematic theoretical analysis of the moral culture of “victimhood” emerging on university campuses. Central to their interesting and thought-provoking investigation is the claim that moral cultures tend to take one of three forms: honor cultures, dignity cultures and victim cultures.

Honor cultures emerge when a centralized state authority is not present or not legitimate and when people are extremely materially vulnerable. Under these conditions, individuals will take offense very easily, grow quickly fearful, and engage in higher rates of defensive, preemptive aggression as well as vigilante justice, in order to settle their disputes. In the worst-case scenario this preemptive aggression can develop into bloody feuds enveloping whole families, gangs, or lineages. Physical bravery, deferential respect to the powerful, and an unwillingness to appear weak and vulnerable consequently become paramount values.

Citing Steven Pinker, Donald Black, and others,1 Campbell and Manning suggest that slowly over the last 500 years, state authority (police, courts and jails) has come to supplant vigilante justice as a powerful and reasonably fair system of adjudicating disputes regardless of their severity. Over the last 500 years societies have not only become more reliant on state authority to resolve disputes, but also materially wealthier due to machine technology and market economies, relatively more equitable in terms of the distribution of resources, power and prestige, as well as more diverse due to the formal legal rights and benefits extended to women and minorities.

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About Skeptic

THE RISE OF THE NONES Imagining No Heaven — The Rise of the Nones and the Decline of Religion; Never Doubting God — Surveys on Belief in God’s Existence; Persistence of Belief in a Purposeful Universe; Honor, Dignity, Victim — A review of The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars; The SkepDoc — Premature Ejaculation in the News: How Headlines Influence Our Thinking; Is the Earth Flat? Flat Earthers Are Back — How do You Best Make the Argument for a Round Earth?; Conspiracy Theorists and the Harm They Do; Bruce Perkins and Another Terrible Tragedy of the Recovered Memory Movement; Deterrence and Its Discontents: Now That Nuclear War Seems to Be Getting More Likely Again, It’s Time to Turn a Skeptical Eye on Deterrence; Reality Need Not Diminish Our Concept of Our Place in the Cosmos; Junior Skeptic — Perpetual Motion; and more…