Re-creating the culture of honor

Dr. Dov Cohen

University of Waterloo

Previous research has indicated that there is a culture-of-honor among whites in the U.S. South. While we have argued previously that this arose as a functional adaptation to the herding economy on the frontier, there is a separate question of why the culture continues to this day. To examine this issue, we need to look at the forces that are re-creating the culture. These include collective representations, the forces of social organization, and peer enforcement or expected enforcement of norms. In addition, micro-level interaction patterns probably also play a role in sustaining violence in the U.S. South. Specifically, three studies will be presented to suggest that norms for violence and politeness reinforce each other in southern culture. Notions of equilibrium points and trade-offs in cultural norms will be briefly discussed.