Tag Archives: morality

Mothers, Sex Tapes and Gender Morality

Coleen NolanColeen Nolan’s recent televised revelation that she made a sex tape provides an interesting example of how talk and discourse is saturated with moral work. Her self-confession allowed for a host of consequential moral assumptions to be made about her making of a sex tape. These assumptions rest on the known-in-common attributes that are associated with gender categories. The apparent ‘shock’ experienced by her sons, panel and audience about the revelation allows us to see her actions as a ‘breach’ to the common-sense cultural knowledge about how ‘moral types of women’ (e.g. mothers) should behave.

Wowk’s (1984) research from a murder suspect interrogation and Stokoe’s (2003) neighbour disputes research provide interesting examples of this moral accountability in practice. Their data revealed that peoples’ perceptions of morality, in relation to women, were aligned with specific activities and characteristics for ‘good mothers’ (e.g. ‘sexually discreet’, ‘mother-as-childcarer’) and ‘bad mothers’ (e.g. ‘being overtly sexual’, ‘swearing’). They also found that moral judgments were often non-explicit and smuggled in through indirect references to illicit behaviour in order to subtly police moral boundaries. Coleen’s sons, the panel and the audience therefore, by their very (re)actions, can be seen to be unavoidably engaged in producing and sustaining a gendered moral order out of the particulars provided by Coleen.
square-eyeLoose Women – Coleen Nolan

square-eyeColeen Nolan shocks the Loose Women TV audience – and her sons – as she admits to starring in a sex tape

square-eyeSocial Psychology and Discourse

square-eyeMothers, Single Women and Sluts: Gender, Morality and Membership Categorization in Neighbour Disputes

‘Teen girls abused by boyfriends warns NSPCC’: Standardised Relational Pairs and Membership Categorisation Analysis.

male_sex_relationship_symbolThe ‘Partner exploitation and violence in teenage intimate relationships’ research by the NSPCC and Bristol University provides us with an interesting (and alarming) glimpse at ‘standardised relational pair’ categories (Sacks, 1992) and the moral accountability attached to them (Jayussi, 1984). Sacks’ work on categories and their deployment found that certain categories go together like ‘boyfriend–girlfriend’. Members of these categories which form ‘standardised relational pairs’ have rights, responsibilities and duties to each other. In our example ‘boyfriend–girlfriend’, it is presumed that each person should provide a safe, supportive, caring and respectful relationship environment for each other to grow and develop. It follows then that category pairs and associated predicates (rights, responsibilities etc) are relational in the sense that one may be expected to follow the next with accountability as a moral-procedural requirement. Breaches between these categories and predicates ‘one in six said they had been pressured into sexual intercourse and 1 in 16 said they had been raped’, tend to generate moral outrage/alarm and interactional repair solutions ‘parents and schools can perform a vital role in teaching them about loving and safe relationships, and what to do if they are suffering from violence or abuse’.
square-eyeTeen girls abused by boyfriends warns NSPCC

square-eyeGender-Based Violence

square-eyeObjectification Theory and Psychology of Women: A Decade of Advances and Future Directions

square-eyeA tutorial on membership categorization

‘Spanish practices’

BullfightFirstly it was bonus payments for bankers seen as largely responsible for the ‘credit crunch’, and then excessive expenses claims by members of parliament (MPs).

Although these activities were not necessarily illegal, the British public has been enthusiastically encouraged by the press to denounce them as immoral.

This common view that dubious morality is endemic amongst those in positions of power has been highlighted recently by the ironic election success of a Croatian politician with a campaign slogan of ‘All for me, nothing for you’.

From a psychological perspective, such beliefs illustrate the ultimate attribution error, where negative behaviours of individual members are seen as typical of an entire out-group.

On closer inspection, however, this simple moral dichotomy is more complex than it may first appear. For example, MP’s expenses have been likened to so-called ‘Spanish practices’, a derogatory British term that continues to be surprisingly widely-used despite its racist implications. Such practices are questionable non-contractual working arrangements that benefit the employee and have become accepted as normal over time. These typically occur within heavily unionised industries, and have previously been the subject of industrial disputes.

Rather ironically then, many of those claiming the moral high-ground in terms of MP’s expenses commonly take advantage of exactly the same kind of ‘unofficial benefits’, suggesting that morality is a somewhat flexible concept.

Interestingly, the very term (mis-)used to describe these practices is a further example of the ultimate attribution error, being one of a number of historic British slurs attributing negative behaviours to foreign nationality out-groups.

Square-eye‘Spanish practices’ of MPs from the Mail Online

Square-eye£1.99 - small Sunar, D. (2009). Suggestions for a New Integration in the Psychology of Morality

Square-eye£1.99 - smallGiles, D. & Shaw, R. L. (2009). The Psychology of News Influence and the Development of Media Framing Analysis

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