Shame and Worker Activism: Emotional Dynamics in Face-to-Face Encounters

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Abstract

Shame – a feeling of social inadequacy and (the anticipation of) public humiliation – may inhibit worker activism. This article discusses the role of shame, as an emotion and a behavioral disposition, in face-to-face confrontations between workers and employers, embedded in an authority structure marked by patron-clientage and personal dependency. It explores how shame may function as an obstacle to face-to-face confrontations and claim-making, and how workers and leftwing activists try to overcome this hurdle.

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