Skammen og dens brødre: Arbejdsløshed, maskulinitet og klasseskam

  • Mathies Græsborg Aarhus Syddansk Universitet
Nøgleord: Skam, arbejdsløshed, klasse, maskulinitet, prekariat, neoliberalisme, højrepopulisme, solidaritet


This article is about how it feels to be an unemployed man today. After briefly accounting for certain historical developments that have shaped the contemporary unemployed male experience, the article focuses on one feeling central to this experience: shame. The article argues that unemployment is increasingly attached to shame, rather than guilt, as the unemployed self perceives itself as inadequate in relation to a neoliberal ideal of entrepreneurship. Using sociological theories about class shame, the article proceeds to analyze two literary representations of unemployed men in a contemporary Danish context: Lau Aaen’s Dagpengeland and Jens Blendstrup’s Slagterkoner og Bagerenker. The shame in Dagpengeland breeds a critical attitude towards the shaming unemployment institutions of the welfare state, while Slagterkoner og Bagerenker explores the psychological processes of a form of shame turned into xenophobic resentment. Unemployed male shame is thus described as a multifaceted feeling; destructive in the sense that it tears down men’s ingrained identities and solidarities but productive in the sense that it affectively confronts the ashamed subject with certain social inequalities and injustices.


Mathies Græsborg Aarhus, Syddansk Universitet

Institut for Kulturvidenskaber


Aaen, Lau. Dagpengeland. København: Gyldendal, 2012.

Agnes, Heller. ”Five Approaches to the Phenomenon of Shame”. Social Research 4 (2003): 1015-1030.

Ahmed, Sara. The Cultural Politics of Emotion. 1. udg. Abingdon: Routledge, 2004.

Berlant, Lauren. ”Nearly Utopian, Nearly Normal: Post-Fordist Affect in La Promesse and Rosetta”. Public Culture 2 (2007): 273-301.

Blendstrup, Jens. Slagterkoner og bagerenker. København: Rosinante & Co, 2016.

Bloksgaard et al., Lotte. ”Masculinity Ideals in a Contemporary Danish Context”. NORA – Nordic Journal of Feminist and Gender Research 3 (2015): 152-69.

Boland, Tom og Ray Griffin. The Sociology of Unemployment. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Bourdieu, Pierre. Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste. 1. udg. Abingdon: Routledge, 1986.

Butler, Judith. Notes Toward a Performative Theory of Assembly. Harvard: Harvard University Press, 2015.

Connor, Steve. ”The Shame of Being a Man”. Textual Practice 2 (2001): 211-30.

Denning, Michael. ”Wageless Life”. New Left Review 66 (2010): 79-97.

Felski, Rita. ”Nothing to Declare: Identity, Shame, and the Lower Middle Class”. PMLA 1 (2000): 33-45.

Foss, Kristian Bang. Døden Kører Audi. København: Gyldendal, 2012.

Fox, Pamela. Class Fictions: Shame and Resistance in the British Working Class Novel, 1890–1945. Duke: Duke University Press Books, 1994.

Gould, Deborah B. Moving Politics. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2009.

Harvey, David. A Brief History of Neoliberalism. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.

Hochschild, Arlie Russell. Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right. New York: The New Press, 2016.

Hoggart, Richard. The Uses of Literacy. London: Chatto & windus, 1957.

Isenberg, Nancy. White Trash: The 400-Year Untold History of Class in America. London: Penguin, 2016.

Jameson, Fredric. Representing Capital: A Reading Of Volume One. Reprint edition. New York: Verso, 2014.

Jimenez, Luis og Valerie Walkerdine. ”A Psychosocial Approach to Shame, Embarrassment and Melancholia amongst Unemployed Young Men and Their Fathers”. Gender and Education 2 (2011): 185-99.

Jones, Owen. Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class. 2. rev. udg. New York: Verso Books, 2012.

Kimmel, Michael. Angry White Men: American Masculinity at the End of an Era. 1. udg. Nation Books, 2015.

Lykkeberg, Rune. Kampen Om Sandhederne. København: Gyldendal, 2008.

Marx, Karl. ”Chapter Twenty-Five: The General Law of Capitalist Accumulation”. Capital. A Critique of Political Economy. 1. bind. Overs. Samuel Moore og Edward Aveling. Marx/Engels Internet Archive (, 1995 og 1999.

Nussbaum, Martha C. Hiding from Humanity: Disgust, Shame, and the Law. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 2006.

Orwell, George. The Road to Wigan Pier. Red. Will Jonson. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2014.

Pettigrove, Glen og Nigel Parsons. ”Shame: A Case Study of Collective Emotion”. Social Theory and Practice; Tallahassee 3 (2012): 504-30.

Probyn, Elspeth. ”Everyday Shame”. Cultural Studies 2-3 (2004): 328-49.

Pultz, Sabina. It’s Not You, It’s Me: Governing the Unemployed Self in the Danish Welfare State, 2017.

Robbins, Bruce. The Servant’s Hand: English Fiction from Below. Duke: Duke University Press, 1986.

Rosin, Hanna. The End of Men: And the Rise of Women. 1. udg. New York: Riverhead Books, 2012.

Russell, Bertrand. In Praise of Idleness. 1932.

Savage, Mike et al. ”A New Model of Social Class: Findings from the BBC’s Great British Class Survey Experiment”. Sociology 2 (2013): 219-50.

Scheff, Thomas J. ”Shame and the Social Bond: A Sociological Theory”. Sociological Theory 1 (2000): 84-99.

Sedgwick, Eve Kosofsky et al. Shame and Its Sisters: A Silvan Tomkins Reader. Duke: Duke University Press, 1995.

Sharma, Devika og Frederik Tygstrup. Structures of Feeling: Affectivity and the Study of Culture. Berlin: Walter de Gruyter, 2015.

Standing, Guy. The Precariat: The New Dangerous Class. London: Bloomsbury Academic, 2014.

Walkerdine, Valerie og Peter Bansel. ”Neoliberalism, Work and Subjectivity: Towards a More Complex Account”. The SAGE Handbook of Identities. Red. Margaret Wetherell og Chandra Talpade Mohanty. SAGE, 2010. 492–507.

Walkerdine, Valerie og Luis Jimenez. Gender, Work and Community After De-Industrialisation. Basingstoke: Palgrave Macmillan UK, 2012.

Walters, William. Unemployment and Government: Genealogies of the Social. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2000.

Zamora, Daniel. ”When Exclusion Replaces Exploitation: The Condition of the Surplus-Population under Neoliberalism”. Nonsite 10 (2013),

Aarhus, M. (2018). Skammen og dens brødre: Arbejdsløshed, maskulinitet og klasseskam. K&K - Kultur Og Klasse, 46(125), 179-198. Hentet fra