Despite the wide use of shame in the media and politics, through 'name and shame' campaigns and cause-related marketing, it is not a term well or universally understood. On Shame points to ways in which we can and should use this powerful emotion to address and act against atrocities in the modern world, from the Holocaust to Darfur.
On Shame draws on historical and current affairs to explore the emotion of shame, as well as films such as Night and Fog, Ghosts of Rwanda and Life is Beautiful and the work of Primo Levi and J.M. Coetzee to illustrate how works of art can both produce an experience of shame and be themselves objects of which we should be ashamed.
Michael Morgan argues that shame is not exclusively associated with actions, and that it is more global in its sense of the self; we can be ashamed to be associated or identified with something, whether or not we support or participate in it. It is this feeling of identification with something we abhor that spurs us on to moral action, Morgan argues, and this is where the real power of shame lies.