2022 Student Research Conference:
35th Annual Student Research Conference

Talkin’ Sh*t: The Taboo Nature of Human Excrement


Ryan M. Fuemmeler
Dr. Anton Daughters and Dr. Brian Ott, Faculty Mentors

Although a biologically universal process, human excrement and its associated actions maintain negative connotations and thus exist as a taboo across the globe. Excrement bears this status as it can evoke disgust, express anger, and is commonly associated with lowlife. Additionally, the taboo is reinforced in public restrooms and persists through social stratification and the formation of intimate relationships. More concrete theories should exist on the topic and more literature should focus on how the taboo is evolving, though. A survey was conducted targeting young adults and their relationship with excretory processes to answer the following questions: Why has human excrement maintained a taboo status throughout history? And more specifically, how is this taboo evolving in the twenty-first century? The data suggests that most young adults are quite comfortable discussing defecation with those they have deep, familial relationships with, although the digital communication of the twenty-first century may hinder this. 

Keywords: human excrement, taboo, public restrooms, social stratification, survey, relationships

Topic(s):Anthropology
Sociology

Presentation Type: Oral Presentation

Session: 203-4
Location: SUB GEO B
Time: 11:00

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