Shame in the Clash of Two “Normals”: The Case of Covid-19 in Tasmania


  • Vladimira Ilić Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Faculty of Philosophy, University of Belgrade



shame, fear, normality, Covid-9, Tasmania


This paper deals with the general question of what a segment of sociocultural reality in the capital of Tasmania looked like over the time span from the emergence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in China up to Australia's lockdown in mid-March 2020, or more specifically, what took place in direct, daily contacts between people, in the meeting or clash of coexisting incongruous behavioral norms – the “old” (habitual up until then) and the “new” (modified due to the crisis) patterns of interpersonal behavior. In this period of health and social crises, which is here termed liminal, shame was generated. It arose as an emotional reaction to the discrepancy between the thinking, feeling and behavior of interviewees and the thinking, feeling and behavior of members of their social environment, a discrepancy that became apparent in the course of their mutual interactions and whose object was a different emotion – fear. The fieldwork was conducted in mid-2020 in Hobart, in the form of semi-structured interviews with several immigrants from the states of the former Yugoslavia. As it was aimed at studying their fear, and only in second place their feeling of shame, in this paper I have limited myself to a narrative interpretation of the origins and object of shame, with the intention of, on the one hand, highlighting the principal factors in the construction of shame and, on the other, examining what it was in connection with fear that aroused shame in the given context. It was noted that, among other things, shame was culturally generated in the given interactions which occurred within secondary relationships and specific environmental contexts and, still more broadly, as part of the crisis caused by the general spread of the virus, and that, as the object of shame, fear emerged as an inappropriate emotion, initially in the sense of the disproportion between the intensity of fear and its object (i.e. the threat posed by the virus).


Download data is not yet available.


Abdullah, I. 2020. “ COVID-19: Threat and Fear in Indonesia.” Psychological Trauma: Theory, Research, Practice, and Policy 12(5): 488-490.

Armon-Jones, Claire. 1986. “The Social Functions of Emotion”. In The Social Construction of Emotions, edited by Rom Harré, 57-82. Oxford OX UK: Blackwell.

Beatty, Andrew. 2010.“How Did It Feel for You? Emotion, Narrative, and the Limits of Ethnography.” American Anthropologist 112 (3): 430-443.

Beatty, Andrew. 2019. Emotional Worlds: Beyond an Anthropology of Emotion. New Departures in Anthropology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Boiger, Michael, and Mesquita, Batja 2012. “The Construction of Emotion in Interactions, Relationships, and Cultures”. Emotion Review 4 (3): 221–229.

Boiger, Michael, Batja Mesquita, Yukiko Uchida, and Lisa Feldman Barrett. 2013. “Condoned or Condemned: The Situational Affordance of Anger and Shame in the United States and Japan”. Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin 39(4): 540–553.

Boscoboinik, Andrea. 2014. „Introduction: Risks and Fears from an Anthropological Viewpoint”. To The Anthropology of Fear: Cultures Beyond Emotions, eds. Andrea Boscoboinik and Hana Horakova. 9-25. Hamburg: Lit Verlag.

Bulat, Petar. 1933. Kukavica. Zagreb: Etnografski muzej u Zagrebu.

Fredrickson, Barbara. 2004. “The Broaden-and-Build Theory of Positive Emotions.” Philosophical Transactions: Biological Sciences 359 (1449): 1367-1377.

Gergen, Kenneth. 1994. Realities and relationships: soundings in social construction. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.

Gibson, Matthew. 2018. “A pragmatic investigation into the emotions of pride, shame, guilt, humiliation, and embarrassment: Lived experience and the challenge to established theory”. Social Science Information 57(4): 616-643.

Gofman, Erving. 2000. Kako se predstavljamo u svakodnevnom životu. Beograd: Geopoetika.

Gokseven, Yagmur, Guzin Zeren Ozturk, Ecem Karadeniz, Ecem Sarı, Berau Gelmez Tas Haci Mustafa and Ozdemir. 2021. “The Fear of COVID-19 Infection in Older People.” Journal of Geriatric Psychiatry and Neurology XX(X): 1-7.

Grelan, Hans. 2007. Filozofija osećanja. Beograd: Geopoetika.

Harris, Nathan. “Shame in Regulatory Settings.” In Regulatory Theory: Foundations and Applications, edited by Peter Drahos, 59–76. ANU Press, 2017.

Hatfield, Elaine, John T. Cacioppo, and Richard L. Rapson. 1994. Introduction and Overview To Emotional contagion, eds. Harre, Rom and Gerrod Parrott: 1-6. Cambridge Paris: Cambridge University Press; Éditions de la Maison des sciences de l'homme.

Heise, David and Cassandra Calhan. 1995. “Emotion Norms in Interpersonal Events.” Social Psychology Quarterly 58 (4): 223-240.

Herzfeld, Michael. 1980. “Honour and Shame: Problems in the Comparative Analysis of Moral Systems.” Man 15(2): 339-351.

Ilić, Vladimira. 2021. „Strah u doba korone.“ U Kovid-19 u Srbiji ’20, ur. Bojan Žikić, 157-171. Beograd: Filozofski fakultet, Univerzitet u Beogradu.

Kilborne, Benjamin. 1992. “Fields of Shame: Anthropologists Abroad.” Ethos 20 (2): 230-253.

Kirmayer, Laurence and Caminee Blake. 2009. „Theoretical Perspectives on the Cross-Cultural Study of Panic Disorder“. In Culture and Panic Disorder, eds. Hinton, Devon E. and Byron J. Good: 31-56. Stanford, California: Stanford University Press.

Lebra, Takie Sugiyama. 1971. “The Social Mechanism of Guilt and Shame: The Japanese Case.” Anthropological Quarterly 44(4): 241-255.

Lebra, Takie Sugiyama. 1983. “Shame and Guilt: A Psychocultural View of the Japanese Self.” Ethos 11(3): 192-209.

Lewis, Michael. 1998. “Shame and Stigma“ In Shame: Interpersonal Behavior, Psychopathology, and Culture, eds. Paul Gilbert, Bernice Andrews, 126-140. New York: Oxford University Press.

Lutz, Catherine. 1986. “Emotion, Thought, and Estrangement: Emotion as a Cultural Chategory.“ Cultural Anthropology 1(3): 287-309.

Lutz, Catherine. 1996. “Engendered Emotion: Gender, Power, and the Rhetoric of Emotional Control in American Discourse“. In The Emotions: Social, Cultural and Biological Dimensions, eds., Harré, Rom and Gerrod Parrott, 151-170. London, Thousand Oaks, New Delhi: SAGE Publications.

Manderson, Lenore and Susan Levine. 2020. „COVID-19, Risk, Fear, and Fall-out“. Medical Anthropology 39 (5): 367-370.

Parrott, Gerrod. 2014. “Feeling, Function, and the Place of Negative Emotions in a Happy Life“ In The positive side of negative emotions, ed. Gerrod W. Parrott, 273-296. New York and London: The Guilford Press.

Piers, Gerhardt, and Milton Singer. 1953. Shame and Guilt: A Psychoanalytic and a Cultural Study. Springfield, IL: Charles C Thomas.

Podboj, Martina. 2020. „Narativna analiza kao metoda uvida u diskursnu konstrukciju identiteta“. Suvremena lingvistika 46 (90): 239-264.

Podunavac, Milan. 2020. „Pandemija straha: politički učinci“. Humanističke studije 8: 9-18.

Quarantelli, E. L. 1954. “The Nature and Conditions of Panic.” American Journal of Sociology 60 (3): 267-275.

Riezler, Kurt. 1944. “The Social Psychology of Fear“. American Journal of Sociology 49(6): 489-498.

Rosenblatt, Elizabeth L. 2013. “Fear and Loathing: Shame, Shaming, and Intellectual Property.” DePaul Law Review 63(1): 1-48.

Sauvagnat, François. 2018. „Notes on the Evolution of the Relationship between Guilt and Shame in Psychoanalysis and Anthropology“. Rev. Latinoam. Psicopat. Fund. 21 (4): 779-797.

Scheff, Thomas J. 1988. “Shame and Conformity: The Deference-Emotion System.” American Sociological Review 53 (3): 395-406.

Shweder, Richard A. 2003. “Toward a Deep Cultural Psychology of Shame.“ Social Research 70 (4): 1109-1130.

Stearns, Peter. 2017. Shame: A Brief History. Urbana, Chicago, and Springfield: University of Illinois Press.

Swami, Mukesh Kumar and Tuna Gupta. 2020. “Psychological impact of fear-based messages in context of COVID 19.” International Journal of Social Psychiatry: 1-2.

Toffler, Alvin. 1975. Šok budućnosti. Rijeka: Otokar Keršovani.

Tompson, Kenet. 2003. Moralna panika. Beograd: Clio.

Trifunović, Vesna i Ivan Đorđević. 2021. „Kultura ’nove normalnosti’ – značenje i upotreba pojma“. Glasnik Etnografskog instituta SANU 69 (3): 519-530.

Vujaklija, Milan. 1954. Leksikonu stranih reči i izraza. Beograd: Jugoslovensko štamparsko preduzeće Beograd.

Weinberger, David. 2012. Too Big to Know: Rethinking Knowledge Now That the Facts Aren't the Facts, Experts Are Everywhere, and the Smartest Person in the Room Is the Room. New York: Basic Books.

Wilce, James M. 2009. Crying Shame: Metaculture, Modernity, and the Exaggerated Death of Lament. Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.

Žikić, Bojan, Mladen Stajić i Marko Pišev. 2020. „Nova društvena i kulturna normalnost i kovid-19 u Srbiji od februara do maja 2020. godine.“ Etnoantropološki problemi 15(4): 949-978.

Žikić, Bojan. 2021. „Kovid-19 u Srbiji: izbegavanje rizika i upravljanje rizikom“. U Kovid-19 u Srbiji ’20, ur. Bojan Žikić, 19-35. Beograd: Filozofski fakultet, Univerzitet u Beogradu.




How to Cite

Ilić, Vladimira. 2022. “Shame in the Clash of Two ‘Normals’: The Case of Covid-19 in Tasmania”. Etnoantropološki Problemi / Issues in Ethnology and Anthropology 17 (4):1293–1322.