23 SES 10 B, Education as Applied Politics: Critiquing and Inscribing Policy into Practice and Building Alternatives (Part 2)
Symposium: continued from 23 SES 10 B
Despite the good intentions animating the work that researchers do with invisible communities, there are traps inherent in the different social positions occupied by the participants. One of these traps is the ‘assistencialism’ that occurs when the desire to help the “poor other” contributes to increase their oppressive state. Freire was well aware of this and struggled against treating people as passive subjects, incapable of participating in their own emancipation, thus in need of help. Lacan, although not an educational theorist, offer us some insights to understand this saintly spirit: it is as if there was an underlying desire to keep someone in the status of a victim, so that we can enact in ourselves the desire for helping. This mechanism allows people to ease their conscience, while at the same time assures that no fundamental change in the lives of the underprivileged or hindered occurs. Based on our experience within the Urban Boundaries project, we discuss in this paper how we dealt with the trap of assistencialism when working with the local communities involved in the project, and argue for the importance of establishing a set of common goals that posit researchers and locals in the same transformative level.
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