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Orit Kamir

Betraying Dignity

The Toxic Seduction of Social Media, Shaming, and Radicalization

Fairleigh Dickinson University Press 2000

New Books in Critical TheoryNew Books in JournalismNew Books in Politics & SocietyNew Books in Science & TechnologyNew Books in Science, Technology, and SocietyNew Books in SociologyNew Books in Technology August 7, 2020 Yakir Englander 

What do medieval knights, suicide bombers and “victimhood culture” have in common? Betraying Dignity: The Toxic Seduction of Social Media, Shaming, and Radicalization (Fairleigh...

What do medieval knights, suicide bombers and “victimhood culture” have in common?

Betraying Dignity: The Toxic Seduction of Social Media, Shaming, and Radicalization (Fairleigh Dickinson University Press) argues that in the second decade of the twenty-first century, individuals, political parties and nations around the world are abandoning the dignity-based culture we established in the aftermath of two world wars, less than a century ago.

Disappointed or intimidated, many turn their backs on the humanitarian, universalistic culture that presumes our inherent human dignity and celebrates it as the basis of every individual’s equal human rights. Instead, people and nations are returning to a much older, honor-based cultural structure.

Because its ancient logic and mentality take new forms (such as social network shaming and certain aspects of “victimhood culture”) — we fail to recognize them, and overlook the pitfalls of the old honor-based structure. Narrating the history of honor-based societies, this book distinguishes their underlying principle from the post-WWII notion of dignity that underlies human rights. It makes the case that in order to revive and strengthen dignity-based culture, the concept of human dignity must be defined narrowly and succinctly, and enhanced with the principle of respect.

Continuing its historical and cultural narrative, the book discusses contemporary phenomena such as al-Qaeda terrorists, shaming via social network, FoMO, and some features of the emerging “victimhood culture”. The book pays homage to Erich Fromm’s classic Escape from Freedom.

Orit Kamir is founder and academic head of the Center for Human Dignity in Israel, and has taught law and culture studies at universities in Israel, the United States, and Europe.


Dr. Yakir Englander is the National Director of Leadership programs at the Israeli-American Council. He also teaches at the AJR. He is a Fulbright scholar and was a visiting professor of Religion at Northwestern University, the Shalom Hartman Institute and Harvard Divinity School. His books are Sexuality and the Body in New Religious Zionist Discourse (English/Hebrew and The Male Body in Jewish Lithuanian Ultra-Orthodoxy (Hebrew). He can be reached at: Yakir1212englander@gmail.com