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BFanning PublicMorality March 2023


About the Book: How can we uphold moral and ethical standards in society if we have different understandings of what that means?  How do divided perspectives on morality shape our thinking about social problems?

(opens in a new window)Public Morality and the Culture Wars examines conflicts on topics such as abortion, sexuality, free speech, LGBT+ rights and censorship and how these conflicts are rooted – to some extent – in opposing beliefs about human nature and the self.  Fanning explores the power of todays’ online communities with specific norms and values that if breached can result in cancel culture but argues that these interdependent online groups with shared belief systems have much in common with pre-modern peasant farmers and villagers.

The book draws on topical case studies including the political conflicts about abortion that have waged since the landmark 1973 Roe v. Wade ruling and its subsequent overturning by the US supreme court in 2022.  Fanning also shines a light on current human rights debates around gender identity and the conflicts between advocates for transgender rights and gender-critical feminists promoting sex-based rights.

The book offers an accessible analysis of the main strands of public morality that have come to be institutionalised in Anglophone democratic countries.  In particular, Fanning explores the morality derived from Christian beliefs and theology; those derived from liberal individualism and those derived from post-Enlightenment rejections of God-given moral law.  He identifies a ‘triple divide’ between conservative, liberal and progressive viewpoints.

A nuanced analysis of the so-called ‘culture wars’ now dividing Anglophone democracies is badly needed. Public Morality and the Culture Wars makes a vibrant, up-to-date and invigorating contribution to the debate.


About The Author:

Bryan Fanning is Professor of Migration and Social Policy at University College Dublin, Ireland. As a social scientist, Bryan relishes multidisciplinary approaches to the study of social questions.   His research interests also include the modernisation of Irish society and he has written several books on the topic including Histories of the Irish Future (2014), Migration and the Making of Ireland (2018) and Three Roads to the Welfare State: Liberalism, Social Democracy and Christian Democracy (2021).

For a review copy of Public Morality and the Culture Wars or for an interview with Bryan Fanning, please contact:

Katherine Lowe, The Oxford Publicity Partnership Ltd,

Tel: 07887 948795 or email: (opens in a new window)katherine.lowe@oppuk.co.uk



Chapter 1. Enforcing Morals
Chapter 2. Theologies of Public Morality
Chapter 3. The Sovereign Self
Chapter 4. Liberalism, Free Speech and Intolerance
Chapter 5. Religion, Prohibition and Censorship
Chapter 6. Civil Religions
Chapter 7. Abortion Moralities
Chapter 8. Sex Differences and Gender Identities
Chapter 9. The Future of Public Morality

Emerald Publishing was founded in 1967 to champion new ideas that would advance the research and practice of business and management.  Today, we continue to nurture fresh thinking in applied fields where we feel we can make a real difference, now also including the social sciences.  Emerald manages a portfolio of over 300 journals and over 3,000 books and book series volumes, over 1,500 teaching cases as well as providing an extensive range of online products and additional customer resources and services.  Emerald Publishing is part of the Emerald Group.

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