Call-out culture

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Call-out culture (also known as outrage culture) is a term for the social phenomenon of publicly denouncing perceived racism, sexism, homophobia, transphobia, and other forms of bigotry. Denunciation ("call-outs") can happen in person or online.[1][2][3][4]

Some commentators contend that callout culture is a pernicious influence in both the academic and business worlds, citing the controversy at Google over a memorandum concerning the respective vocational interests of men and women, authored by former Google engineer James Damore.[5] Other commentators have argued that callout culture can harm progressive politics by attacking people perceived to have exhibited prejudiced behaviour, rather than using dialogue with such people to change such behaviour.[6][7] A 2013 essay, "Exiting the Vampire Castle", by Mark Fisher, is often cited as an early critique of call-out culture. Fisher argued that "call-out culture" created a space "where solidarity is impossible, but guilt and fear are omnipresent". Fisher also argues that call-out culture reduces every political issue to criticizing the behaviour of individuals, instead of dealing with such political issues through collective action. [4][8]

Call-out culture found a vehicle in social media. Both as consumers and as political activists, individuals found a means to communicate to a larger crowd in an expedient and pervasive manner. While call-out culture often publicly denounces perceived acts of bigotry, as stated above, it also refers to the act of publicly calling out a larger entity (such as an organization, business or vendor) usually by means of social media. In an effort to hold these businesses or organizations accountable, individuals will take to the online forums to "call them out". Whether the individual is addressed by a representative from within the organization or not, some of these posts or tweets (depending on the medium) can go viral and cause a PR headache for the business.

The effects of call-out culture are also noted as more prevalent today on college-campuses, where most students are aware of the social justice culture that exists and is expressed online. There are some that are careful to avoid missteps (ex: cultural appropriation by way of a Halloween costume) in order to avoid public online call-outs and others that are exploring ways to deal with past aggressors by way of call-out online.[9]

Some people argue in defense of call-out culture and contend that it is a form of social activism. [10] The individual calling someone out is ultimately trying to either stop behavior they deem to be negative or prevent it from happening again. Others argue that the call-out culture today tends to be too aggressive and can often have life-altering affects on the individual being called out. [11]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Friedersdorf, Conor (May 8, 2017). "The Destructiveness of Call-Out Culture on Campus: Reflections from undergraduates of the social media era". The Atlantic. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  2. ^ Danuta Walters, Suzanna (May 5, 2017). "Academe's Poisonous Call-Out Culture". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  3. ^ Scott, Shaun. "In Defense of Call-out Culture". City Arts Magazine. Retrieved July 20, 2018.
  4. ^ a b Vansintjan, Aaron. (29 October 2017) "Beyond Bloodsucking", openDemocracy, Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  5. ^ Paresky, Pamela (September 8, 2017). "When 'Speak Out' Culture Becomes 'Callout' Culture: Welcome to the world of post-rational discourse". Psychology Today. Retrieved October 21, 2017.
  6. ^ Ahmad, Asam. (March 2, 2015) "A Note on Call-Out Culture". Briarpatch Magazine. Retrieved August 3rd, 2018.
  7. ^ Hamad, Ruby, and Liddle, Celeste. (11 October 2017) "Intersectionality? Not while feminists participate in pile-ons". The Guardian. Retrieved August 3rd, 2018.
  8. ^ Izaakson, Jen. (August 12, 2017 )‘Kill All Normies’ skewers online identity politics Feminist Current. Retrieved 23 November 2018.
  9. ^ Friedersdorf, Conor (2017-05-08). "The Destructiveness of Call-Out Culture on Campus". The Atlantic. Retrieved 2018-10-19.
  10. ^ Scott, Shaun (February 1, 2018). "In Defense of Call-out Culture". City Arts Magazine. Retrieved 2018-10-03.
  11. ^ Rodriguez-Cayro, Kyli. "This Is What It Means To Call Someone In, Instead Of Calling Them Out". Bustle. Retrieved 2018-10-19.