by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Anthony Hennen writes for the Martin Center about one pervasive negative element within today’s college campus life.
In recent years, a new “victimhood culture” has emerged as a powerful new social force that threatens the liberal foundation of academic freedom.
Victimhood is a culture where an individual’s status as a victim elevates him or her to the moral high ground. Its hallmarks are taking offense in microaggressions, shouting down controversial speakers, and demanding “safe spaces.” The values of victimhood culture are encouraging an illiberal turn in students and academics alike, who label political disagreement and academic freedom as violence. Furthermore, they respond to skepticism toward that victimhood status by others with great emotion and anger.
The Rise of Victimhood Culture: Microaggressions, Safe Spaces, and the New Culture Wars, written by Bradley Campbell and Jason Manning, sociologists at California State University at Los Angeles and West Virginia University, respectively, describes how this culture developed and came to dominate campus. They use three moral cultures that have existed in America as a framework for discussion: a culture of honor, a culture of dignity, and a culture of victimhood. They also explain how changing norms are reshaping colleges.