Shaming alone: Living alone, shame and masculinity in digitally mediated communications
The analysis of shame, understood as a basic emotion that articulates social relationships, affords insight into the embodied experience of social processes. This paper presents the preliminary results of a research study focusing on how this emotion operates in the relationships and experiences of middle-aged (34–45 years) heterosexual men living alone in Madrid (Spain). We are particularly interested in exploring how shame intercedes when these men challenge or fail to fully adapt to the norms of adult romantic relationships and social expectations regarding having a stable partner. Our analysis aims to characterize this population group and describe how they use instant messaging groups and online dating apps. We focus on how shame is articulated in these interactions and the effects this has on men’s subjectivity and self-image, in order to explore the different ways in which they activate and modulate expressions of modern-day masculinity. In short, we suggest that circuits of shame trigger certain forms of subjection which clearly emerge in mediated communications, an arena in which, in the case of men who live alone, the rupture with the social norm is defensively re-worked, inverting the sense of self and embodying a set of tensions and ambivalences.
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