Saturday, July 29, 2017

Moral Shock.

Wandering around in reading is like wandering around in the physical world...you never know what you might accidentally stumble on that is enlightening and/or interesting.

That sort of wandering around in reading is exactly how I ran across the notion of Moral Shock. Here's a brief description of it from Wikipedia (I don't have Jasper's book yet).
In sociology, moral shock is a cognitive and emotional process that encourages participation. James M. Jasper, who originally coined the term, used it to help explain why people might join a social movement in the absence of pre-existing social ties with members. It denotes a kind of visceral unease, triggered by personal or public events, that captures people’s attention. Moral shocks often force people to articulate their moral intuitions. It is an appealing concept because it brings together emotional, moral, and cognitive dynamics.[1] According to David A. Snow and Sarah A. Soule, authors of “A Primer on Social Movements”, the moral shock argument says that some events may be so emotionally moving or morally reprehensible that individuals will feel that they must join the cause regardless of their connection or ties to members of that organization.
 I guess that's precisely what happened with me when I watched the awful video titled Meet Your Meat. I saw it and immediately began my project of living vegan and haven't looked back since. I certainly didn't know anyone who lived vegan nor did I know much about the concepts and/or theories that are associated with living vegan. I was pretty much living vegetarian...but almost totally ignorant about any conceptual frameworks and/or theories about vegetarianism and/or veganism.

I didn't know there was a phrase for that kind of thing (moral shock) or that folks had written about such experiences. Ya never know, you know?

"Jasper defines a moral shock as "an unexpected event or piece of information [which] raises such a sense of outrage in a person that she becomes inclined toward political action, with or without the network of personal contacts emphasized in mobilization and process theories."" (from Wikipedia)

I would add to Jasper's description "a sense of outrage", the additional descriptors of horror and repulsion.

Have you had any moral shock experiences?  Maybe a moral shock could be thought of as a kind of flashbulb memory phenomenon that leads to a transformation in behavior and comprehension?



 

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