Quote of the Day: Politics as Moral Signalling Edition

As his own claim to social respect and honor are diminished, the sober, abstaining citizen seeks for public acts through which he may reaffirm the dominance and prestige of his way of life. Converting the sinner to virtue is one way; law is another. Even if the law is not enforced or enforceable, the symbolic import of it’s passage is important to the reformer. It settles the controversies between those who represent clashing cultures. The public support of one conception of morality at the expense of another enhances the prestige and self-esteem of the victors and degrades the culture of the losers.

Joseph Gusfield, Symbolic Crusade: Status Politics and the American Temperance Movement, pp. 4-5.

6 Responses

  1. […] sort of ban seems to be about status politics rather than any genuine attempt to change behaviour or respond to the fact that ‘all staff, […]

  2. […] smoking on campuses, this is about the anointed having their vision of a safe and decent society formally approved in law. Symbolism is primary; enforcement, […]

  3. […] problem with politics, of course, is that people use it to express moral distaste, even if they don’t really think the activity they wish to ban should be punishable. When […]

  4. […] If government tobacco policy was aimed at reducing the harm caused by smoking, the government would immediately redirect all tobacco control funding to promoting and subsidising e-cigs. This would be more effective and less harmful than spending money telling smokers they smell and that nobody wants to have sex with them. Unfortunately,healthists seem to think consuming nicotine is sinful. Tobacco control is less about helping people than it is aboutsignalling disapproval of those with different preferences. […]

  5. Can I use paypal to pay for this?

  6. […] see smokers as disgusting deviants who must be punished. As Joseph Gusfield (writing about alcohol) says: As his own claim to social respect and honor are diminished, the sober, abstaining citizen seeks […]

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