Shame, Guilt, and Punishment


  • Philipp Wüschner Free University Berlin



Theories of punishment, shaming, shame and guilt, affective economies, electronic monitoring and control


Drawing on Foucault’s Discipline and Punish and on his lecture on the Punitive Societies as well as on affect theories, this text tries to analyze a surprising return to shame as a paradigm for punishment. In this context, shame and guilt are both seen not so much as real emotions occurring within the soul of a subject, but as dispositives or affective arrangements that seek different ways to regulate and modulate the feelings of justice and injustice within a society. Excessive shaming, which does not fit well in Foucault’s narrative of a development towards more subtle forms of punishment, will be understood as a (somewhat problematic) form of resistance against the subtleties of control. The text discusses this using the example of Electronic Monitoring and its history as a form of making shame invisible, hiding it as micro-political shame in an economy of guilt. Against this economy, excessive shame as punishment forms an aneconomic force that sets out to reset the rules of community and identity.


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How to Cite

Wüschner, P. (2017). Shame, Guilt, and Punishment. Foucault Studies, (23), 86–107.



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