The Changing Face of Heroism: Understanding the Concept in the 21st Century

1. Introduction: what is heroism?

The word “hero” has been around for centuries, but its definition has changed significantly over time. In the past, heroes were often defined as individuals who had accomplished great deeds or feats of strength and courage. Today, however, the definition of heroism is much more complex and nuanced.

There are many different theories about what constitutes heroism, but at its core, heroism is about selflessly putting others before oneself in difficult or dangerous situations. Heroes are often motivated by a desire to help others or make the world a better place, even if it means putting their own lives at risk.

While some heroes are famous or well-known, such as firefighters or soldiers, anyone can be a hero. In fact, heroism often occurs in everyday life, when people go out of their way to help others in need.

2. Theoretical approaches to heroism

There are many different ways to understand heroism from a theoretical perspective. In this section, we will explore two of the most popular approaches: the sociological perspective and edgework.

-Sociological perspective

The sociological perspective on heroism emphasizes the social recognition that heroes receive for their actions. From this perspective, heroes are seen as symbols of hope and inspiration who represent the best of what society has to offer.

While the sociological perspective is valuable in understanding how heroes are perceived by society, it does not necessarily explain why people choose to act heroically in the first place. For this reason, it is often combined with other theoretical perspectives, such as edgework.


Edgework is a theory that was developed by sociologist Anthony Giddens to explain how people take risks in order to achieve personal growth and development. According to this theory, people seek out risky or challenging activities (such as rock climbing or skydiving) in order to push themselves outside of their comfort zones and learn more about themselves and their capabilities.

Many acts of heroism can be seen as edgework, as they involve taking risks in order to help others. For example, someone who rushes into a burning building to save a trapped victim is engaging in an act of edgework that could have deadly consequences if they are not careful. However, the rewards of helping someone in need far outweigh the risks involved.

3. Conclusion: the concept of heroism in the 21st century

The concept of heroism has evolved significantly over time, but at its core, heroism is still about selflessly putting others before oneself. While the motivations for heroic acts may have changed over time, the 21st century has seen a resurgence in acts of heroism motivated by a desire to make the world a better place. In a time when so much seems to be going wrong in the world, heroes remind us that there is still good in the world worth fighting for.


The author's definition of heroism is someone who goes above and beyond what is expected of them in order to help others, even if there is a risk involved.

The author illustrates the concept of heroism through real-life examples by talking about people who have risked their lives to save others or have made significant sacrifices for the greater good.

Heroic efforts inspire others to be better people by showing them that it is possible to make a difference in the world, no matter how small.

The author believes that there is a difference between heroes and everyday people in that heroes are willing to put themselves in harm's way for the sake of others, while everyday people may not be as willing to do so.

We can learn from both successful and unsuccessful heroic efforts by understanding what worked well and what could be improved upon for future situations.

Some challenges that modern day heroes face include increased public scrutiny, media attention, and the pressure to live up to high expectations.