British Journal of Social Psychology 55 (4), pp. 739-755.
This paper investigates everyday moral reasoning in relation to donations and prosocial behaviour in a humanitarian context. The discursive analysis focuses on the principles of deservingness which members of the public use to decide who to help and under what conditions. The paper discusses three repertoires of deservingness: 'Seeing a difference', 'Waiting in queues' and 'Something for nothing ' to illustrate participants' dilemmatic reasoning and to examine how the position of 'being deserving' is negotiated in humanitarian crises. Discursive analyses of these dilemmatic repertoires of deservingness identify the cultural and ideological resources behind these constructions and show how humanitarianism intersects and clashes with other ideologies and value systems. The data suggest that a neoliberal ideology, which endorses self-gratification and materialistic and individualistic ethics, and cultural assimilation of helper and receiver play important roles in decisions about humanitarian helping. The paper argues for the need for psychological research to engage more actively with the dilemmas involved in the moral reasoning related to humanitarianism and to contextualize decisions about giving and helping within the socio-cultural and ideological landscape in which the helper operates.
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