Dynamics of online shaming : a sociological study of the interaction rituals in virtual world

Research output: Other Conference ContributionsPresentation


This presentation is part of an ongoing research studying the patterns of online shaming in the context of Hong Kong society. I use online shaming as a case to examine people’s everyday online interaction and compare it with actual, face-to-face encounter. By introducing Erving Goffman and Randall Collins’ discussions on the Interaction Ritual, this presentation aims to offer a sociological explanation for the phenomenon of online shaming. In particular, I will examine whether there is a new kind of interaction ritual that exists in the online world, and suggest some possible reasons why people shame others online.

After reviewing the literature on shame as an emotion, as well as the history of shaming and related practices, I will highlight shame as both an internal and external emotion that serves as a mechanism of social control. Shame and shaming are particularly useful for enhancing social conformity, inasmuch as the shamed person is recognized and sanctioned by others. Online shaming is essentially a form of stigmatization, in which people try to punish particular individuals thought to have transgressed certain standards or norms. Based upon participant observation, semi-structured interview and documentary research, I propose to distinguish three forms of online shaming, namely Behavioral Labelling, Publification, and Unmasking. These shaming strategies and their corresponding targets, I argue, define some of the major patterns of online interaction among netizens nowadays.


ConferenceAsia Pacific Sociological Association (APSA) Conference 2018 : Interconnections, social transformation and global mobility : exploring possible ways towards the future
OtherThe theme for 2018’s conference is “Interconnections, social transformation and global mobility: a way towards the future.” By connecting sociologists across countries, it encourages presenters and attendees to share studies, consider solutions, and promote international mutual understanding surrounding global contemporary issues.

This symposium showcases recent research from the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence for Children and Families over the Life Course and the Institute for Social Science Research at the University of Queensland on disadvantage over the life course. The session commences with an overview of the objectives and scope of the Life Course Centre which is working to discover the principal causes or mechanisms underlying the transmission of social disadvantage, to develop and trial solution to reduce the transmission of disadvantage and to provide policy advice and research evidence to our partners in government and community organisations. The symposium then focuses on key recent findings from three studies concerning the transmission of social disadvantage across the life course.
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