Hurt, harm and humiliation: Community responses to deviant behaviour in early modern Scotland

Research output: Contribution to Book/ReportChapterpeer-review


Since early history, shaming mechanisms have been systematically used by legal authorities to penalise offenders and to deter others from similar criminal activity. Well-catalogued examples include the march to the gallows, the dying speech, the branding of thieves, the use of the pillory, and the whipping of convicts at appointed stations through a particular community.1 Clearly, aspects of humiliation have always constituted the essence of punishment and the function of shame as a tool to control personal conduct certainly pervaded the minds of the early modern general populace. Regularly they put into practice a variety of forms of ‘street theatre’, designed to humiliate the offender concerned, to dissuade others from behaving badly and, depending on the offence committed, either to expel the perpetrator from the community or to reintegrate them into the fold. This type of communal shaming punishment worked alongside more formal judicial responses to bad behaviour in an attempt to uphold the moral integrity of the populace.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationShame, Blame and Culpability: Crime and violence in the modern state
PublisherTaylor and Francis
Number of pages17
ISBN (Print)9780203110621
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jul 2012
Externally publishedYes


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