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Reflections on Shame

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Reflections on Shame

All in The Mind with Lynne Malcolm

ABC Radio,

5 min read
3 take-aways
Audio & text

What's inside?

Modern public shaming can either damage people and society – or help them become better people.

Editorial Rating



  • Comprehensive
  • Analytical
  • Engaging


The internet and social media have made participation in public discourse a more treacherous proposition than in the past. Any slip that offends one of numerous identity groups can escalate into a limitless orgy of shaming that leaves a permanent record behind for posterity. In this podcast, experts – including those who have suffered modern public shaming – describe shaming’s negative impact. They also explain how shaming, in the right circumstances, can serve a positive societal purpose. In a society in which shaming on social media is common and often destructive, this podcast serves as the beginning of a sorely needed conversation.


Since human beings formed into tribes and clans, public shaming has been used to enforce societal values and moral codes.

Shaming usually accompanies criminal proceedings. It also occurs when the transgression doesn’t necessarily violate the law but offends peoples’ sense of ethical rights and wrongs. In these cases, it can serve a public good, like shaming an exploitative CEO into providing better conditions for workers.

With modern technologies, public shaming often delivers a punishment that exceeds the crime. 

In the past, putting people...

About the Podcast

ABC Radio comprises the radio component of the Australian Broadcasting Corporation – Australia’s national public broadcaster.

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