Humiliation, Resistance and State Violence: Using the Sociology of Emotions to Understand Institutional Violence Against Women and Girls and Their Acts of Resistance


This article examines the relationship between state violence in the form of practices aimed to humiliate and acts of resistance to these practices. Focusing on the experiences of women and girls in the Parramatta Female Factory (1804–1848), Parramatta Girls’ Training School and Hay Institution for Girls (1950–1974), we suggest that the practices used to govern women and girls can be read as attempts at humiliation—to degrade and denounce an individual’s entire subjectivity as being unworthy. We argue that while shame can be the basis for reintegration, humiliation leads to other responses, including at an individual level, reclaiming one’s status as being of worth, and at the level of social action through movements that reclaim group status and invert the direction of who has morally transgressed.


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Except where otherwise noted, content in this journal is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Published: 2020-11-26
Pages:104 to 117
Section:Special Issue: State Violence - Practices and Responses
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Author Biographies

Macquarie University

Tobia Fattore is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology, Macquarie University, Australia. With Susann Fegter and Christine Hunner-Kreisel he is coordinating lead researcher on the multi-national study Children's Understandings of Well-being - Global and Local Contexts (CUWB). He is a serving Board Member of the International Society for Childhood Indicators and a former Board Member of the Research Committee for the Sociology of Childhood (International Sociological Association).

Western Sydney University

Jan Mason is Professor Emerita of Social Work, in the School of Social Sciences at Western Sydney University (Australia). She was founding director and then a member of the UWS Social Justice and Social Change Research Centre. Jan’s employment prior to her university career was in various practice and management positions in the (then) NSW Child Welfare Department (later, NSW Department of Community Services). This work informed her areas of concern as an academic. Her academic work focuses on linking theory, policy and practice on children’s issues, in areas of child welfare and protection, child and family policy, child-adult relations, children's needs in care, kinship care, child well-being and researching with children.