Monday, March 23, 2015

TA: Changing things at scale

Is Shame Necessary?: New Uses for an Old Tool, by Jennifer Jacquet, is "about the power of social disapproval... to change things at scale."   This is how Jacquet starts her February 23 Politics and Prose book talk.

Both the P&P event and the Book TV discussion are chock-full of examples about how public shaming has created social and economic change.   One example is the Sea World stock debacle of 2014. According to CNN's SeaWorld stock gets soaked, plunges 33%,

SeaWorld has come under fire after the airing of "Blackfish" last year, a CNN documentary that exposed the alleged dangers of keeping orca whales in captivity. The film has led to proposed legislation in California, home of SeaWord's San Diego park, to ban the holding of so-called "killer whales" in captivity.

In its earnings release Wednesday, SeaWorld acknowledged that attendance in San Diego was hurt by recent media attention around the legislation. It was the first time the company actually admitted attendance problems because of animal activism, said Barton Crockett, an analyst at FBR Capital Markets, in a research note following SeaWorld's earnings.

Learn about Blackfish.

Both videos are mandatory watching for advocates and activists no matter the issue they work on.   And naturally, the book is a must-read.   Why?   According to Jacquet, "while protests and consumer boycotts are valuable tactics in changing the behavior of governments and corporations, public shaming can be even more effective."   (Book TV segment).   Further,

while guilt holds individuals to personal standards, it proves 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. Yet, unless nearly everyone participates, the impact of individual consumer consciousness is microscopic.   (synopsis)

Jacquet is assistant professor in the Department of Environmental Studies at New York University, contributes to, and previously wrote Scientific American's guilty planet blog.

Buy the book at P&P.

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