Boundaries of Belonging: Doing Unto Ourselves

Abby Day

in Believing in Belonging

Published in print October 2011 | ISBN: 9780199577873
Published online January 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780191731143 | DOI:
Boundaries of Belonging: Doing Unto Ourselves

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People’s moral beliefs appear, superficially, to reflect general legal codes of society. Further analysis suggests they are embedded in social discourses of fairness, equality, and entitlement that are themselves expressions of specific belongings, to specific groups of people, localities, and spaces. Belief narratives reflected an invented and invested golden past, (the ‘bobby on the beat’; ‘mothers in the kitchen’) often coded as statements of trust and also distrust, sometimes a longing for a previous (imagined) golden age. Moral beliefs were expressed usually in emotive terms, and in their telling demonstrated how emotions are triggered by forms of belonging that are subsequently articulated through beliefs.Far from ‘doing unto others’, most people mark clear boundaries between those to whom they do or do not want to belong. People who are not like themselves are ‘others’ who are blamed for the ills of society: young people, those perceived to be ‘foreign’ and mothers who do not behave according to stereotype. People were also often clear about the localities where they belonged and the specific spaces in them, with the boundary between them and the ‘others’ clearly marked.What appears on the surface to be a morality based on ‘fairness’, entitlement and reciprocity masks, it is argued, deeper discourses of structural power, particularly relating to class, gender and ‘race’.

Keywords: belief; belonging; morality; power; gender; youth; ethnicity

Chapter.  10586 words. 

Subjects: Religious Studies

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