Providers and recipients of help. Human categorization between solidarity and differentiation in Portugal and Brazil

Subproject B04 of the Collaborative Research Centre 1482 “Studies in Human Categorization” funded by the German Research Foundation (DFG)

Informal practices of support are characterized by a key ambivalence: on the one hand, they aim at a humanistic ideal of human equality, on the other hand, they go hand in hand with naming, sorting and hierarchizing people. Human categorization can be generated by established official categories, but they can as well as be practiced, questioned or broken through emotional-affective distinctions. The subproject examines the interdependency between external and internal forms of categorizations in different ‘contact zones of support’ (neighborhood initiatives, networks, projects and associations) in which providers of help interact with the recipients. The project sheds light on the human categorization that is negotiated between civil society actors and people who are classified as ‘deserving’ or ‘in need’ and asks which human categories contribute to the empowerment or disempowerment of people. It pursues four analytical questions: (1) How do voluntary helpers sort and hierarchize people whom they perceive to be in need of help? (2) Which community affiliations and group identities of helpers are brought about through support practice? (3) What consequences do these interactions have for the ethnosociologies, self-classification and the scope for action of the recipients of help? And how do the recipients of help categorize the voluntary helpers and their organizational forms (4).

Reichl, Elena Maria (2022). End of Hell? Brazil’s Election and a Community Kitchen of the MTST. Blog post for FocaalBlog