Corruption and Cheating As the Tragedy of Modern Culture
Different from corruption but closely related to it, cheating represents another serious challenge. Dishonesty in taking examinations has become common in many parts of the world. Cheating, it is claimed, is anathema to sport, yet the use steroids in competitive sports is too common to be ignored.
The scholarly literature agrees in that these forms of deviance occur within the framework of particular sub-cultures that work to normalize such practices. Some forms of corruption are accepted among political circles. Studies on cheating at exams show that many students justify helping friends they are close to. In professional sports many athletes see “fair play” like an expression of amateurism.
Normative frameworks have been put in place to curb dishonesty such as the U.N. Convention Against Corruption. Severe punishment now awaits exam cheaters, and new testing techniques are used to detect doping in sports. However, beyond such disciplinary responses lies the need to acquire a deeper understanding of the general cultural forces driving these harmful trends. It is my contention that the work of George Simmel on the Tragedy of Culture, which duels on the massive growth of objective cultural products, and their overwhelming impact over the subjective culture of individuals, can shed light upon the problem at stake.