Two sociologists detail ‘The Rise of Victimhood Culture’ and how it’s used for social control

Two sociologists detail ‘The Rise of Victimhood Culture’ and how it’s used for social control


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Professors offer possible solution too — tout the principles of ‘dignity culture’

In 2014, Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning, associate professors of sociology at Cal State Los Angeles and West Virginia University, respectively, published a scholarly article titled “Microaggression and Moral Cultures” that detailed the rise of a “victimhood culture.”

Sure enough, a paper that discussed microaggressions in what many perceived as a negative light was denounced as — wait for it — a microaggression.

Critics took umbrage to their “victimhood” terminology, with one reader calling their paper “tenuous and capricious” and that it “is itself a microaggression,” actually “closer to a real aggression.”

In 2015, the two sociologists filed a solicited op-ed to the online magazine TechCrunch titled “Microaggressions and the Moralistic Internet.” The editor they worked with initially praised the column, telling them it would run soon. A month later he told the two professors their column was spiked.

From what Campbell and Manning could best determine based on correspondence with the editor, “it sounds as if the staff members found our analysis morally offensive in some way.”

These two anecdotes are detailed in Campbell’s and Manning’s co-authored 2018 book “The Rise of Victimhood Culture.” The two sociologists have emerged as experts on the subject, maintaining a blog that is updated regularly on the subject as well as writing op-eds and giving interviews.

While the term “victimhood culture” was not coined by the two scholars, they write in their book that they have uniquely classified it as “a moral culture distinct from honor and dignity cultures.”

The two approach the topic with a dispassionate and scholarly tone in their nearly 300-page book, but it’s clear their take on the subject has riled feathers, with some peers arguing terms such as honor and dignity have positive connotations while victimhood does not.

“Our terminology is intended to help describe what is going on, not to praise or condemn it,” they write as a rebuttal.

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