The Rise of Victimhood Culture with Bradley Campbell

July 25, 2018

Today we have Bradley Campbell on the podcast. Dr. Campbell is a sociologist interested in moral conflict— clashes of right and wrong and how they are handled. Most of his work examines genocide, which normally arises from large-scale interethnic conflicts. Recently he has also begun to examine the much smaller-scale conflicts on modern college campuses. His latest book, co-authored with Jason Manning, is called “The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars.”

  • The clash between victimhood and dignity culture
  • The sociology of genocide and conflict
  • The difference between honor culture, dignity culture, and victimhood culture
  • Victimhood as a form of status
  • Microaggressions on campus
  • Anti-PC culture vs. victimhood culture
  • Distinguishing real victimhood from victimhood culture
  • Conservative victimhood vs. liberal victimhood
  • Those who embrace offensiveness
  • Healthy Activism: vs. Psychopathological activism
  • The main goals of the Heterodox Academy
  • The need for more generosity and forgiveness among differing viewpoints, cultures, and neurodiverse individuals

5 Responses to “The Rise of Victimhood Culture with Bradley Campbell”

  1. Andrew says:

    Realu qppreciated the conbersation, thanks! To help clarify the language around ‘dignity’ and ‘honor’ culture, and to describe just jow these power dynamics could be assessed, check out this presentation by Robb Smith. He discusses the ‘power to convene’ that is challenged when someone uses public shaming or isolation in a moral judgement, and the phenomena we see today with the power to hold attention, or to convene people to tune in.


  2. Helen says:

    I wish Dr. Campbell had considered a word to describe the “culture of victimhood” with fewer negative connotations. Honor and Dignity are both terms with quite positive connotations.
    Why couldn’t we call it culture of responsibility or culture of accountability? Where power is lost if you don’t acknowledge accountability when called out for actions or words having been received negatively by others? Where people are held accountable for how their words or actions may be received by others? Where kindness is valued? And where you call people out publically to try to force them to take accountability if their words or actions show lack of respect or are hurtful to others?

    As usual – a very thought provoking podcast. Thanks for doing these!

    • What a terrific episode! Thank you for bringing Mr. Campbell on and clarifying the ideas behind the various culture categories.

      Like some of the other folks here, I came up with the phrase “Accountability Culture” as an alternative to “Victim Culture”. It seems that Honor and Dignity are terms people within those cultures would use to describe themselves. Accountability is likely to be an ideal upheld by the folks in the third group. The honor and accountability groups have obvious negative and extreme examples. I wonder if the dignity group’s flaw might be one of an excess of mercy at the cost of the aggrieved party.

      The source of moral authority in each group appears distinct as well. In Honor culture the authority is the culture of virtue (which correlates with understanding systemic oppression as individual actions rather than systems). In accountability culture, the authority might be academic theory along with personal opinion.
      With dignity culture, there appears to be an attempt to have a spiritual code of ethics. This is most obvious with non-violent resistance. Unfortunately, many of our religious traditions are entangled with patriarchal ideas of gender roles.

      Thanks again for this wonderful podcast!
      Caroline Rufo

  3. Jon says:

    It is not our job to figure out how people interpret what we say. This is poor thought. If I have a problem with what someone says then that is my responsibility not theirs. Only the speaker can take responsibility for their words no one else. You can choose how you hear them an what you do about it. Take your own accountability.

  4. Jason Schwartz says:

    I agree with Helen. It seems like a judgement-laden name.

    I haven’t read his book, but my question is this: is the “victimhood culture” a response to failures of the dignity culture to respond to non-violent, less severe injustices?

    His description of the honor culture included the following elements: the individual gets to decide when an injustice has occurred, a callout, confrontation, and violence (hoping to injure the person who committed the perceived injustice).

    The dignity no longer allows the individual to decide when an injustice has been committed against them, that is moved to some authority. That authority decides what is worthy of punishment, determines the facts, and delivers punishment or exoneration.

    It seems predictable that the authority might be less responsive to minorities and might struggle with the less clear violations.

    So . . . we either need to address the failures of the dignity culture, or develop another moral model. When thought of in this way, all of this seems pretty predictable. If we are in an evolutionary process toward a new moral model, I imagine that what we’re observing is part of the process rather than an end. I imagine that the transition from honor to dignity was not perfectly smooth either.

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