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Adam Smith observed in his Lectures on Jurisprudence (1762) — a series of talks that he gave at the University of Glasgow — that national character plays a significant role in economic transactions: the Dutch, he said, are “more faithful to their word” and better at “performing agreements” than the English, and the English more faithful than the Scots.
In the past few months, I’ve observed a similar kind of cultural variation in a much more prosaic setting: the panhandling interaction.
If you’re from North America, as I am, you’ve probably seen people on the street requesting money from strangers using appeals such as “Homeless—Please Help” or “Homeless Veteran.” There are a number of variations, but homelessness is the common theme in many cases.
Elsewhere in the world, panhandlers use quite different rationales—or what the great mid-century sociologist C. Wright Mills would call “vocabularies of motive.” Mills wasn’t interested in what actually motivated people—such as what psychologists would term “needs” or “drives”—but rather in the ideologically-charged terms they used to justify their actions to themselves and others. As he observed, some motives are more acceptable than others, and we can learn something about local cultures based on what passes for a “good reason.”
So it’s sociologically interesting that within the North American context, the concept of “home” has such resonance that the claim of “homelessness” is considered a compelling and sufficient motive for giving money to strangers. But while the need for shelter would seem universal, it’s rare to see a panhandler outside North America requesting a donation on the basis of homelessness.
In Germany, for example, one often finds people begging for trinkgeld—”drinking money.” And they’re not playing for laughs, as one sometimes finds in the US, when panhandlers give a wink and a nod to the stereotype that money given to beggars is only ever used to buy alcohol (or drugs). When a panhandler asks for “drinking money” in the US, it’s sort of an in-joke, or an attempt to appear disarmingly honest; based on the limited examples I’ve seen, this seems to jolly people up and get good results (i.e., quantities of cash).
But in Germany, drinking money is serious business. In the four years I lived in the Rhine Valley, I saw dozens of men (always men) on public transport and on the street, asking for “trinkgeld, bitte” in monotonous, dirge-like tones that seemed to express just how grim a fate it was to lack beer money. Equally surprising to me was the willingness of Germans to open their purses for this reason, as if it was a truth universally acknowledged that a man with empty pockets must be in want of a beer. In the interactions I witnessed, no one on either end of the transaction ever smiled.
Yet another vocabulary of motive can be found on the streets of Istanbul, where panhandlers often approach passers-by with a request for ekmek parası—Turkish for “bread money.” In perhaps 10 visits to Turkey in the last 3 years, I’ve never seen anyone on the street claiming to be homeless. Nor have I seen a cardboard sign of the kind so common in North America.
In all three settings, the vocabularies of motive among panhandlers have a common theme of need: for shelter, drink or food. What’s interesting is how each cultural setting changes the calculus about what kind of motive is most likely to bring in the cash. Perhaps it comes down to what each society views as among the basic human rights: in the US, shelter has a plausible claim to that status, but beer does not; whereas in Germany, it an appeal for trinkgeld succeeds as an appeal to common humanity and decency; in Turkey, hunger seems to trump all other claims.
Originally posted in 2010.
Brooke Harrington is Associate Professor of Economic Sociology at the Copenhagen Business School. She is the author of two books: Pop Finance: Investment Clubs and the New Investor Populism and Deception: From Ancient Empires to Internet Dating. She is currently doing research on offshore banking and blogs at our fellow Society Pages blog, Economic Sociology.
I do not give a damn what the lyrics are about, it's a music video of a skinny shirtless boy running his hands over his sun-warm skin, over his soft tender belly, writhing on a picnic blanket. Damn.
And yes, this post's icon is one I prepared earlier, years ago. Long Hot Summer has been my go to summer song for over 30 years.
And this one, too
( don't look back, you can never look back )
( music meme topics )
We've connected now on Facebook and I follow their posts and, on occasion we catch up by messaging each other. This is such a normalized behaviour for me now that I don't think about it much. There's a lot of people who I interact with in this way. I don't automatically break these connections down into categories of people ... they are people I know.
But sometimes, when things happen fast, I do notice. I notice not the disability in particular but the life the person with the disability is living. I notice the engagement that people have in their world or with others in their community. I notice that they are caught up in life, in the best way possible. I think this is noticeable to me because I grew up in a world without disabled people in it. I began work in an institution because community services didn't exist or if they did they were in their infancy. No one could have imagined what was coming down the pike, no one knew that freedom was on its way.
I notice casual comments about going off to choir.
I notice pictures of quilts made that are on display in an exhibit.
I notice the announcement of being in a new relationship.
I notice countdowns to vacations to Spain.
I notice pictures, very funny pictures, from pub nights.
I notice pictures taken at family events.
As life is what life is, not all the posts are about things being done or people being met, there are also posts that speak of the human condition and of what it is to be living a real life, no longer under the forced protection of us, the others.
I notice painful breakups, love betrayed.
I notice jobs lost or jobs not got.
I notice loneliness.
I notice sad comments about being bullied.
I notice grief at family who aren't family.
I read through these, comment or like when necessary, chat when appropriate, but mostly I am bear witness to the fact that people with intellectual disabilities, who given freedom, live it. Freedom has it's joys and freedom has it painful moments, but freedom's opposite is captivity. And while captivity would have all the pain of freedom but none of it's joys.
There are people with disabilities who still live captive. Who still hear keys jingle in every pocket but their own. I am reminded, when I notice the lives lived by those with intellectual disabilities that I am connected with, that not everyone yet has the opportunity for freedom.
Our work isn't done.
Because there's someone, somewhere, captive who, given freedom would make a chocolate cake for the bake table at their community bazaar. Someone, somewhere in captivity isn't meeting a new boyfriend today at the chippy shop. Someone, somewhere, waits, to experience the highs and lows of freedom.
Our work isn't done.
The lives that people with intellectual disabilities claim, when free, shouldn't fill us with a kind of desultory sense of satisfaction and a sense that we're done now.
Exhibit A: Nazi Captain America holding Thor's hammer, with an associated discussion of symbology, senior Marvel staff donations to the 45th US President's campaign, etc
Exhibit B: Marvel asking comic stores to change their logos to Hydra symbols and staff to wear Hydra t-shirts.
Like. Especially maybe don't give them opening-weekend money for this shit, please?
Title: The Dynamics of Us
Pairing(s): John/Rodney, background Lorne/Radek
Characters: John, Rodney, Lorne, Radek, Carson, Elizabeth
Word count: ~14700
Warnings/Tags: none of the usual, light angst / Alpha/Beta/Omega dynamics, bonding, established relationship, episode related: 2x08 'Conversion', Alpha!Rodney, past Beta!John, Omega!John
Disclaimer: Don't own or profit from them
Summary: John was a Beta, always had been. Until he suddenly wasn't anymore.
Link to fic: on AO3 | on my DW
Link to art: on AO3 | on Tumblr
2. Speaking of Zelda, I didn't play much today, but I did do a bit more exploring in the mountains around Hebra Tower and found two more shrines. I think I'm going to leave off any more exploring there until I get those snow boots, though. It's just such a pain to move so slowly in the snow...
And then I went to turn in some gourmet meat to that guy to finish up a quest and suddenly started to get a blood moon. As soon as I saw the signs, I immediately transported to the shrine at the top of Mount Satori or whatever its called and then flew down to Washu's Bluff and this time I made it in time and finished that shrine quest! (I tried it once before, but landed literally right as the blood moon phase passed and the platform light blinked out.)
I also had enough bits and bobs of Guardians to buy one piece of the ancient armor! I need to kill some more Guardians, though, because now I need a ton more parts. :(
3. Tomorrow is Alexander's birthday, so we went out for karaoke and dinner today. We went to Jollibee, which is a Filipino fast food chain. Everything was delicious, but the peach mango pies were especially good. And the halo-halo. It's a good thing it's not very close by, otherwise I'd be going there for dessert way too often. -_-
4. Carla got some cute pics of sleepy Chloe tonight.
So the Supergirl showrunners did remember this series is about Kara Danvers aka Kara Zor-El, her beliefs and values! Yay. ( Supergirl 2x18 )
I'm teaching my brother how to vid, and he wants to make a Stargate vid, and I figured one of the things I should do is introduce him to the extant fannish vidding culture and also it'd be fun just have a vid watching party.
Title: Love Buzz
Author: Shimura Takako
Publisher: Young King
Status in Japan: 3 volumes, complete
Scanlator: Megchan's Scanlations + Heterophobia Fansubs
Scanlation Status: Ongoing
More Info: Baka Updates
Summary: Five years ago, pro wrestler Fuji Kaoru disappeared one day before a match. Now she shows up at her old gym out of the blue, with a five-year-old daughter in tow. But not everyone is willing to welcome her back with open arms.
Chapter Summary: Fuji finally gets her head back in the game, but makes the mistake of tagging out to Machiya at the last moment...
Chapter 11: Who's the Hero Here?