In our society, there is often a strong emphasis on serving certain superficial morals. However, these morals have a tendency to trigger feelings of shame, especially if we are influenced by petit-bourgeois culture. In this blog post, we will explore how petty-bourgeois moral codes affect our shame impulse.
What exactly is petty-bourgeois morality?
Petty bourgeois morality originated in 19th century bourgeois society. The term is often used to describe a particular set of moral ideas and values typically associated with the middle class or lower middle class.
Lower middle-class morality is often characterized by conservative, traditional, and conventional values. These include, for example, an emphasis on the family as the core institution of society, a preference for security and stability, a certain bias against change and novelty, and an emphasis on decency, virtue, and moral order.
Petty bourgeois morality can also be associated with a certain narrowness or narrow-mindedness, often expecting strict adherence to social norms and conventions. Individuality and unconventional behavior may be less valued or even rejected.
How does petty bourgeois morality influence shame?
Precisely because petty-bourgeois morality is often associated with conservative and traditional values, it may view certain behaviors or characteristics as morally reprehensible or offensive. When a person steeped in petty-bourgeois morality deviates from social norms or is considered “immoral,” it can lead to feelings of shame.
The feeling of shame often arises when one feels that he or she is not living up to the expectations of others or is violating norms. In a society where petty morality prevails, certain behaviors or life choices that are considered “unacceptable” can lead to feelings of shame. For example, unconventional lifestyles, nontraditional family structures, or sexual permissiveness might be seen as morally reprehensible, thus causing shame.
Many of the factors associated with the petit bourgeois conception of morality can cause a person to feel shame. For example, if one does or says certain things that violate the moral code, it can cause one to feel ashamed. One feels ashamed because one feels that one has violated the social norms and thus violated society. These feelings of shame can be rooted in the past and then act as an “inner voice” that tells you that you should be ashamed in certain situations.
Shame as a tool for confirming the petty-bourgeois social order
Shame is usually drilled into us from an early age. We know from a very early age when we are doing things we should be ashamed of. The scissors in our heads tell us, long before others do, that certain behaviors are not accepted by those around us. Shame is therefore a powerful tool to secure social order.
In a society with established social norms and hierarchies, shame can be used as a social control tool to encourage compliance with those norms. Individuals can be pressured by social pressure to behave in accordance with prevailing values for fear of being ostracized or marginalized by society.
When women are deemed “not decent” because of their dress or behavior, it often leads to feelings of shame. These feelings of shame are intended to make women conform to the prescribed rules of petty bourgeois morality. So this kind of shame can help maintain the social order.
However, shame also arises when we feel that we do not live up to the expectations, norms, or values of the community. This is also a reason why many young people are ashamed of their bodies instead of accepting them with self-confidence and gratitude: the constant comparison with the standardized measurements leads to a subjective inferiority – showing oneself is accompanied by the fear of not meeting the social requirements for the perfect body.
Shame can also be used as a tool to stigmatize or discriminate against certain groups. By making them feel that their identity, lifestyle, or choices are morally wrong or deviant, shame can be created to control or marginalize them.
How can one free oneself from petty bourgeoisie?
Freeing oneself from petty bourgeois ideas and values requires a conscious commitment and an individual process of reflection and change. Here are some possible approaches to breaking free from petit-bourgeois ways of thinking:
- Reflection and self-awareness: reflect on your own values, norms, and beliefs. Ask yourself if they really match your own beliefs or if they are shaped by social expectations or conventions. Develop an awareness of your own needs, desires, and life goals.
- Education and openness: Broaden your horizons by exploring different perspectives, cultures, and lifestyles. Read books, watch movies or documentaries that present new ideas and ways of thinking. Travel, if possible, to learn about new cultures and people. Be open to new experiences and different ways of thinking.
- Critical thinking: question existing norms and values. Analyze why certain beliefs or behaviors are considered “right” or “wrong.” Consider alternative perspectives and see if they are more consistent with your own values and beliefs.
- Empathy and Tolerance: Develop empathy for other people and their ways of life. Understand that diversity and difference are normal and enriching. Be open to other opinions and respect the individuality of others.
- Courage for individuality: Stand by your own convictions and live your life authentically. Don’t be limited by the expectations of others. Be brave enough to make your own decisions and live your own values, even if they deviate from the petit-bourgeois norm.
- Community and support: seek out like-minded people who have similar values and goals. Surround yourself with people who support you in your pursuit of personal freedom and self-development. Discuss and share your thoughts with others who can encourage and inspire you.
The process of freeing yourself from a small mindset is individual and takes time. It requires self-reflection, patience, and a willingness to embrace change. In this blog post, we have explored how the petty-bourgeois moral mindset can trigger shame and the impact it has on society.
We should realize that these moral codes are not the only truth and often contribute to people feeling ashamed of things that should be normal and make up the diversity of our society. We should break away from these restrictive ideas and associated feelings of shame and develop a self-confident, individual moral concept. Only in this way can we live a fulfilled life without compulsively adhering to the social model of petty bourgeois morality.