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New Britain - A nation of victims

Furedi, Frank (1998) New Britain - A nation of victims. Society, 35 (3). pp. 80-84. ISSN 0147-2011. (doi:10.1007/bf02686140) (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:17751)

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This article focuses on a debate on victimhood in Great Britain. Recent events in Great Britain indicate that the cult of vulnerability goes beyond the terms of the existing debate. This cult has emerged as a key element in a moralizing project that touches upon every aspect of social life. The events surrounding the death of Princess Diana showed how significant sections of the British population have been touched by the cultivation of public emotion. Less than two months after Diana's death, the British reaction to the guilty verdict against Louise Woodward indicated that there was still plenty of spare emotion in support of yet another heroine-victim. These events also demonstrated that when politicized, the culture of victimhood can become a powerful force. The politicization of grieving in Britain has been intimately linked to the institutionalization of vulnerability. Virtually every shade of political opinion and the entire British establishment has endorsed this project. Today, British society actually encourages those who suffer to discover some meaning in their experience. The media continually portray personal tragedies as moral plays, where a victim's loss is endowed with special significance. Thus whenever a tragedy strikes, a member of the family invariably remarks on television that they hope that their loved ones have not died in vain. Critics of the culture of victimhood often direct their fire at its more mendacious and self-serving manifestations, such as the predictable demand for compensation or the evasion of responsibility for the outcome of individual action. The celebration of the victim identity represents an important statement about the human condition. It regards human action with suspicion. It presupposes that human beings can do very little to influence their destiny. They are the objects rather than the subjects of their destiny. Consequently the human experience is defined by not by what people do but what has happened to them.

Item Type: Article
DOI/Identification number: 10.1007/bf02686140
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
Depositing User: R.F. Xu
Date Deposited: 30 Jun 2009 10:33 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Mar 2023 11:31 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

University of Kent Author Information

Furedi, Frank.

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