Name and shame

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To name and shame is to "publicly say that a person, group or business has done something wrong".[1] It is a form of public shaming used to rally popular opinion against and in turn discourage certain kinds of behavior or enterprises. The practice occurs both at the domestic and the international levels where naming and shaming is often used to denounce unfair business practices or human rights violations.[2]

There are some evidences to indicate that naming and shaming can reduce atrocities and make the named and shamed governments to improve their human rights records.[3][4][5][6] Some scholars however question whether naming and shaming actually has the intended effects.[7][6][5]

Public policy usage[edit]

Naming offending individuals or businesses (with the implied objective of shaming them) is sometimes used as an instrument of public policy intended to promote compliance with legal obligations or with the obligation to put right the damage caused by non-compliance.

Examples are:

  • The UK government established a scheme in 2010 to "name businesses which have failed to pay the National Minimum Wage to their employees. The policy objective of the naming scheme is "to raise awareness of minimum wage enforcement and deter employers who would otherwise be tempted to break minimum wage law". According to a government policy statement, this practice has been adopted because "the government recognises that some employers are more likely to respond to the social and economic sanctions that may flow from details of their payment practices being made public, than from financial deterrents".[8]
  • In December 2018 the UK Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy introduced a "naming scheme" to exert reputational pressure on employers who fail to pay Employment Tribunal awards,[9] following publication of government research which found that 34% of employment tribunal awards in England and Wales and 46% in Scotland remained unpaid.[10]
  • In 2013, Citizens Advice recommended that the UK's Consumer Bill of Rights should be backed up by action by trading standards regulators to "name and shame" businesses which have failed to correct poor practices which affect consumers.[11]


  1. ^ Cambridge Online Dictionary, accessed 3 January 2019
  2. ^ Rousseau, Elise (2018-11-01). "Power, Mechanisms, and Denunciations: Understanding Compliance with Human Rights in International Relations". Political Studies Review. 16 (4): 318–330. doi:10.1177/1478929918768979. ISSN 1478-9299.
  3. ^ DeMeritt, Jacqueline H. R. (2012-11-01). "International Organizations and Government Killing: Does Naming and Shaming Save Lives?". International Interactions. 38 (5): 597–621. doi:10.1080/03050629.2012.726180. hdl:1902.1/20502. ISSN 0305-0629.
  4. ^ Krain, Matthew (2012-09-01). "J'accuse! Does Naming and Shaming Perpetrators Reduce the Severity of Genocides or Politicides?". International Studies Quarterly. 56 (3): 574–589. doi:10.1111/j.1468-2478.2012.00732.x. ISSN 0020-8833.
  5. ^ a b Hafner-Burton, Emilie M. (October 2008). "Sticks and Stones: Naming and Shaming the Human Rights Enforcement Problem". International Organization. 62 (4): 689–716. doi:10.1017/S0020818308080247. ISSN 1531-5088.
  6. ^ a b Hendrix, Cullen S.; Wong, Wendy H. (July 2013). "When Is the Pen Truly Mighty? Regime Type and the Efficacy of Naming and Shaming in Curbing Human Rights Abuses". British Journal of Political Science. 43 (3): 651–672. doi:10.1017/S0007123412000488. ISSN 0007-1234.
  7. ^ Snyder, Jack (undefined/ed). "Backlash against human rights shaming: emotions in groups". International Theory. 12: 109–132. doi:10.1017/S1752971919000216. ISSN 1752-9719. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  8. ^ Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy, National Minimum Wage Law: Enforcement, published November 2017, accessed 3 January 2019
  9. ^ Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (2018), Naming Scheme for Unpaid Employment Tribunal Awards, published 17 December 2018, accessed 28 December 2018
  10. ^ Taylor, M. (2017), Good Work: The Taylor Review of Modern Working Practices, page 62, accessed 28 December 2018
  11. ^ BBC News, Name firms that mistreat consumers says Citizens Advice, published 12 June 2013, accessed 3 January 2018