17 November 2012

Solidarity not Charity (+ Resentment and Humiliation)

Among the things to which political theorists like Richard Rorty and Avishai Margalit (among others) quite rightly call attention are the ways social and political arrangements - even when they are 'well intentioned' - can generate humiliation. Among the reasons why I find reliance on charity and faith communities in the provision of social services is that they risk doing just that on a systematic basis. If you want a small taste of how this can go have a look at this story at The New York Times. Charity typically comes entangled with pity and disrespect. It requires that we view recipients as 'victims'. Solidarity invokes recognition of others as equals, or at least demands that their interests be accorded equal consideration.

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Blogger Beth E. said...

This dynamic interects directly with photography, too--the sort of critique you suggest here is the basis for the much more tendentious attack on 'liberal documentary' offered by Martha Rosler, among others. Photography plays a pivotal role in the 'victimology' dimension of deciding who is 'worthy' and who is not, in terms of receiving government 'entitlements', charity support, etc. etc.

18 November, 2012 14:13  

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