Journal Article

The Passion of Mediated Shame: Affective reactivity and classed otherness in reality TV


Anja Hirdman


The article examines how mediated shame in the reality show The Luxury Trap where individuals with huge debts are being scolded for ‘their lack of economic self-control’ presents a specific kind of information about class played out as intensities, encounters and experience. Drawing on studies on affective reactivity, it extends the argument of reality TV as a site for classed otherness by examining how discordant affects, such as, non-empathic reactions to others’ emotional experiences, are formed, as well as transformed on the show. The shaming process evolves through different transitory phases: the inducing, internalization and (temporarily) reduction in shame. These sequential phases disclose the reliance on the passionate aspects of shame, that is, participants’ desire to re-enter into the common by freeing oneself from that which carries the mark for exclusion. They also provide the premise for the repetitive power of affect operation intrinsically linking class and shame together, giving body and form to the un-named, to that which drive us towards affective judgements and to the un-making of subjects.

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  • Type:
    Journal Article (peer reviewed)
  • Journal:
    European Journal of Cultural Studies, Issue 2.
  • Published:
  • Language:
  • DOI:

About the Author

Anja Hirdman

Anja Hirdman är professor och verksam som lektor vid JMK. Hon har en fil.mag i idéhistoria och doktorerade i journalistik med avhandlingen Tilltalande bilder. Genus, sexualitet och publiksyn i Veckorevyn och Fibaktuellt, 2002. Read more


Hirdman, A. (2015). The Passion of Mediated Shame: Affective reactivity and classed otherness in reality TV. European Journal of Cultural Studies, (2). Available at: [Accessed 7 Dec. 2022]. doi: 10.1177/1367549415609325.