It is now orthodox to regard social stigma as a form of oppression, to be discarded on our collective quest for inner freedom. But the political philosophers and novelists of former times would have been horrified by such a view. In almost all matters that touched upon the core requirements of social order, they believed that the genial pressure of manners, morals, and customs — enforced by the various forms of disapproval, stigma, shame, and reproach — was a more powerful guarantor of civilized and lawful behavior than the laws themselves. Inner sanctions, they argued, more dependably maintain society than such external ones as policemen and courts. That is why the moralists of the eighteenth century, for example, rarely touched upon murder, theft, rape, or criminal deception; instead, they were passionately interested in the small-scale mores on which social order depends and which, properly adhered to, make such crimes unthinkable.
(Roger Scruton, “Bring Back Stigma,” City Journal, Vol. X, 2000, p. 68).