Article

Educating the sighted : When activists reorganize solidarity by prefiguring new social scripts of help and interaction

in Organization, 29 (2)

Buchter, Lisa (19..-....)

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Based on research on the French disability rights movement, this article explores how activists use awareness campaigns to prefigure new social scripts for help and solidarity. Although help and solidarity are fundamental in our society, the manner in which they are performed toward minorities (e.g., providing unsolicited help, signaling solidarity as a token of pity, implying inferiority or dependence) may reproduce hierarchization and distance rather than fostering symmetrical solidarity. ... Relying on an ethnography of awareness campaigns established by two disability rights non-profits in France, I analyze how activists attempted to reorganize solidarity at the local level by challenging scripts dictating help, interactions, and by prefiguring new ways of performing help. They conveyed that help should be solicited or consented to, and that it was better performed as a quick, concrete, and precise service than as an emotional and pathologizing benevolence. I demonstrate how blind activists helped participants move from emotional to cognitive empathy, giving them cues on how to bypass their ocular-centric perspective to identify the concrete obstacles faced by visually-impaired people. One of the challenges for these activists was to communicate these new social scripts for solidarity without creating defensiveness or distance.

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