From Moral Indignation to Affective Citizenship: Public Shaming of Celebrity Emigration from Russia During the War Against Ukraine

Julia Lerner, Svetlana Stephenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

The article analyzes the public shaming campaigns that followed celebrity emigration from Russia at the beginning of the war against Ukraine. It shows that celebrity emigration represented a challenge to the construction of a nation morally and emotionally united around the war. The special status of celebrities in modern society as figures that provide the public with a focus of common identification and attention makes celebrity emigration during the war particularly challenging both for the state authorities and for the public. Through systematic analysis of commentary on social media, the article reveals the communicative process of public shaming of these public figures, which works through acts of revelation of their moral failure and othering, including by highlighting their ethnic and class differences. By expressing moral outrage, individual commenters on social media are not only conducting symbolic destruction of these celebrities’ moral character and social status, but also reconstituting the moral meaning of emigration as an act of betrayal of the Motherland. Using the affordances of social media, ordinary people not only express their outrage but also formulate how they see the proper moral commitments and appropriate feelings of patriotic citizens in wartime. Their moral rhetoric and affective expressions are anchored in the well-established Soviet tradition of public shaming and denunciation. They are also framed by the contemporary context of emotional and confrontational social media campaigns.

Original languageAmerican English
JournalAmerican Behavioral Scientist
DOIs
StateAccepted/In press - 1 Jan 2024

Keywords

  • affective citizenship
  • celebrities
  • emigration
  • public shaming

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Social Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • General Social Sciences

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