Publication Details

Marshall, P. D. 1998, 'Confession and identity', M/C: A Journal of Media and Culture, vol. 1, no. 3.


It seems an appropriate time for confessions. Clinton, in what could be described as an "incremental" confession, has made his admission of "inappropriate" intimate relations with Monica Lewinsky not only a running media event, but also a semantic debate about how far one goes before one is both lying and having sex.

Confession is, at its base, a revelation of the self. It is marking one's boundaries of identity, particularly in how that identity is publicly displayed. Confession also implies that there are hidden elements of the self that are not normally revealed, but that some shift has occurred, some border of the private and public has moved like earthquake-affected tectonic plates, which makes the confession necessary and appropriate. The confession in its appropriateness is all about cultural values and where one is situated within a spectrum of normative etiquette.