The right measure of guilt: disclosure, transgression and the social construction of moral meanings

2013-01-31T12:41:18Z (GMT) by Cristian Tileaga
Using a discursive and ethnomethodological analytic framework, this article explores the social construction of moral transgression and moral meanings in the context of coming to terms with the recent communist past in Eastern Europe. This article illustrates some significant aspects of everyday uses of morality and the socio-communicative organization of public judgements on moral transgression. The article considers the range of public reactions and commentaries to a public confession of having been an informer for the former Romanian secret police. Moral reasoning around transgression takes several forms: a) invoking everyday psychological categories and morally implicative descriptions associated with identities of persons and actions; b) drawing upon culturally available metaphors and images with roots in Judaeo-Christian ethics and morality; c) using the wider political context of coming to terms with the past as foundation and criterion for moral judgement. This article argues that rather than attempting to analyse moral (public) judgement in abstract, one must focus on the everyday constructions and uses of morality found in social interaction and social responses to moral transgression.