Christian Vigouroux

The Society of Scorn Publication date : April 27, 2022

Christian Vigouroux is a jurist and teacher (associate professor at the Université Paris-I then of Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines from 1996-2012). He was director of the cabinets of two ministers of the interior and of two Keepers of the Seals. He is the author of Georges Picquart, dreyfusard, proscrit, ministre [Georges Picquart: Dreyfusard, Outcast, Minister], and Du juste exercise de la force [On the Just Exercise of Force] (Odile Jacob).

There are countless members of French society who feel under-estimated, forgotten, because they are disdained. The Yellow Vests recently placed the issue of the invisibility of some categories of the population in the harsh light of the media. It is no longer possible today to ignore the effects of negative emotions that ruin individual relationships, social life, and weaken the country. Christian Vigouroux paints the portrait of scorn: “Scorn, or the antechamber of contempt.”

Scorn doesn’t just characterize our times; it is a constant in French history. Already Daumier, the great nineteenth-century caricaturist, grasped its prominent expressions. What are the origins of scorn? How is it formed? A desire to advance and distinguish oneself for some; a need to hold onto resentment, for others. Does scorn belong to the Right or to the Left? Is it gendered? Christian Vigouroux analyzes its strength and the destruction it produces in families, in love, in society. He explains its signs and manifestations in behaviors as well as in certain political decisions, hunts its traces in language, so that the effects and the dangers of this powerful detonator are not ignored.

But for every ill there is a remedy, and this book proposes concrete paths to overcome scorn. Mightn’t those that can be practiced on an individual level – listening, respect, politeness, self-awareness – ultimately be exercised on the collective level?