Shame has long been a powerful tool of social regulation, as the medieval stocks and the Christian association of shame with nakedness testify.  But today critics argue contemporary mechanisms of shame, like cyberbullying, 'fat shaming' and aspects of so-called cancel culture, have spiralled dangerously out of control.  Studies have shown shame to be correlated with anxiety, depression and even suicide.  Fueled by social media, some claim we are seeing shift from a guilt to a shaming culture which is highly damange to society and the individual.  

Should we seek to excise shame from social and public life to protect the well being of all? Or are shifts in attitudes to racism and sexism evidence that shame is an important and powerful motivator for change? At root are we right to feel shame when we violate social norms, or should we seek to overcome shame and feel confident even if we recognise that we have acted badly? 

Author Joanna Kavenna, cultural sociologist Sophie Scott-Brown, and human rights campaigner Peter Tatchell engage in a profound examination of the societal effects of shame and shaming. Florence Read hosts. 

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