From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
For other uses, see Scapegoat (disambiguation).

Scapegoat, 2012, bronze sculpture

Scapegoating (from the verb “to scapegoat“) is the practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment or blame as ascapegoat.[1] Scapegoating may be conducted by individuals against individuals (e.g. “he did it, not me!”), individuals against groups (e.g., “I couldn’t see anything because of all the tall people”), groups against individuals (e.g., “Jane was the reason our team didn’t win”), and groups against groups.

A scapegoat may be an adult, sibling, child, employee, peer, ethnic or religious group, or country. A whipping boy, identified patient or “fall guy” are forms of scapegoat.

At the individual level[edit]

A medical definition of scapegoating is:[2]

“Process in which the mechanisms of projection or displacement are utilized in focusing feelings of aggression, hostility, frustration, etc., upon another individual or group; the amount of blame being unwarranted.”

Scapegoating is a tactic often employed to characterize an entire group of individuals according to the unethical or immoral conduct of a small number of individuals belonging to that group. Scapegoating relates to guilt by association and stereotyping.

Scapegoated groups throughout history have included almost every imaginable group of people: genders, religions, people of different races, nations, or sexual orientations, people with different political beliefs, or people differing in behaviour from the majority. However, scapegoating may also be applied to organizations, such as governments, corporations, or various political groups.


Unwanted thoughts and feelings can be unconsciously projected onto another who becomes a scapegoat for one’s own problems. This concept can be extended to projection by groups. In this case the chosen individual, or group, becomes the scapegoat for the group’s problems. “Political agitation in all countries is full of such projections, just as much as the backyard gossip of little groups and individuals.”[3] Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung considered indeed that “there must be some people who behave in the wrong way; they act as scapegoats and objects of interest for the normal ones”.[4]

At the group level[edit]

The scapegoat theory of inter-group conflict provides an explanation for the correlation between times of relative economic despair and increases in prejudice and violence toward outgroups.[5] For example, studies of anti-black violence in the southern US between 1882 and 1930 show a correlation between poor economic conditions and outbreaks of violence (e.g., lynchings) against blacks. The correlation between the price of cotton (the principal product of the area at that time) and the number of lynchings of black men by whites ranged from -0.63 to -0.72, suggesting that a poor economy induced white people to take out their frustrations by attacking an outgroup.[6]

Scapegoating as a group however, requires that ingroup members settle on a specific target to blame for their problems.[7] Scapegoating is also more likely to appear when a group has experienced difficult, prolonged negative experiences (as opposed to minor annoyances). When negative conditions frustrate a group’s attempts at successful acquisition of its most essential needs (e.g., food, shelter), groups may develop a compelling, shared ideology that – when combined with social and political pressures – may lead to the most extreme form of scapegoating: genocide.

Scapegoating can also cause oppressed groups to lash out at other oppressed groups. Even when injustices are committed against a minority group by the majority group, minorities sometimes lash out against a different minority group in lieu of confronting the more powerful majority.

In management: Scapegoating is a known practice in management where a lower staff employee is blamed for the mistakes of senior executives. This is often due to lack ofaccountability in upper management.[8]

For example, a teacher who constantly gets blamed or accused of wrongdoing could be a scapegoat if said teacher is only guilty of doing her job so well that she makes her coworkers and supervisory administration look bad. This could result in letters being placed in permanent files, condescending remarks from co-workers and constant blame finding from administration.

The “scapegoat mechanism” in philosophical anthropology[edit]

Literary critic and philosopher Kenneth Burke first coined and described the expression “scapegoat mechanism” in his books Permanence and Change (1935), and A Grammar of Motives (1945). These works influenced some philosophical anthropologists, such as Ernest Becker and René Girard.

Girard developed the concept much more extensively as an interpretation of human culture. In Girard’s view, it is humankind, not God, who has need for various forms of atoning violence. Humans are driven by desire for that which another has or wants (mimetic desire). This causes a triangulation of desire and results in conflict between the desiring parties. This mimetic contagion increases to a point where society is at risk; it is at this point that the scapegoat mechanism[9] is triggered. This is the point where one person is singled out as the cause of the trouble and is expelled or killed by the group. This person is the scapegoat. Social order is restored as people are contented that they have solved the cause of their problems by removing the scapegoated individual, and the cycle begins again. The keyword here is “content”. Scapegoating serves as a psychological relief for a group of people. Girard contends that this is what happened in the narrative of Jesus of Nazareth, the central figure in Christianity. The difference between the scapegoating of Jesus and others, Girard believes, is that in the resurrection of Jesus from the dead, he is shown to be an innocent victim; humanity is thus made aware of its violent tendencies and the cycle is broken. Thus Girard’s work is significant as a re-construction of the Christus Victor atonement theory.

So today I wore many hats… or did I?



So today I decided to wear many hats and fun was had by all. Or then again no.

Wowsers tough day in the office, with my work load, others I had to do, filling in project information, sorting our an HR issue, problems with pay rises, it just seemed never ending.

I have now mind you, caught up. But it is 11pm, and the laptop has been out for 3 hours to make this all happen.

A day of speaking to customer tomorrow may yet provide some welcome relief!

Also exercise tomorrow night should cheer me up.


Enough already, night all.

But before I go:

This is how to wear and juggle all those hats….

Nearly there…..


well its nearly the end of the week, and perhaps I do want to put my feel up but I suspect it may not quite happen just like that!

weekends plans have somewhat been shelved with the gin drinking being put back -reschedule rather than cancel



So back to work then….

Where did I leave my checklist? Well I am not quite that anal about things but I’ve had to do some bits and pieces in advance.

email_envelope_400_clr_7126I’ve sent out a few emails, letting the new guys know the rough plan for the week. I’ve emailed the new people supporting the new guys so the know what the rough plan is too. I will however, have to drag oneself in early tomorrow to make sure that I’ve got some kind of workable schedule. I probably should have done that before now, but there is nothing really spoiling I dont think. One email to the boss too incase there is an issue, there might not be, but an FYI was justified I think.



There was a hair cut the other day, so that sharpened the top of my head but I’ve been dabbling away with experiments in facial hair, and it might stick with me for a little bit longer. The grey is coming in mind you so in due course that may well have to change! But its done.


Irunning_on_treadmill_400_clr_1968 was thinking about what to do with the gym as it is £34 a month, and to see what I can do to minimise that. There is somewhere more local and its £18 a month, so a switch could be on the cards. I might go and try a free session first to get it out of the way to see what it is like. Opens early in the morning and through to 9pm so its not too bad. I shall reflect a little first before I make the final decision.


lp_record_label_custom_16174I am on top of my bed as I write this (you didn’t need to know that really but it adds context!) and spotify is currently offering up : Radical Reinterpretations which is awesome, lots of good stuff played differently. I am listening to No One which i think is by the Keys lady played by the Vitamin string quartet.


Ands thats your lot I think, its bed time from me and an early start, so wish me luck.