The Felt Politics of Charity: Serving “The Ambassadors of God” and Saving “The Sinking Classes”

Rebecca Anne Allahyari

in Passionate Politics

Published by University of Chicago Press

Published in print October 2001 | ISBN: 9780226303987
Published online February 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780226304007 | DOI:
The Felt Politics of Charity: Serving “The Ambassadors of God” and Saving “The Sinking Classes”

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This chapter describes the author's fieldwork among volunteers in the two largest charitable organizations dedicated to feeding the poor in Sacramento, California. At Loaves & Fishes, a Catholic Worker charity, the staff and “routine volunteers” (mostly middle class and predominantly white) strove to treat the poor with more compassion and love, while at The Salvation Army, kitchen staff and the “drafted volunteers” (mostly working class and male, many of color, and many formerly homeless) labored alike to be more responsible toward others. The felt politics of caring at Loaves & Fishes and The Salvation Army spanned three mutually constitutive horizons: the moral selving of individuals, the emotion cultures of the organizations, and the local politics of charity and social change. The analysis here focuses on the latter two in order to turn our attention most directly to social movement politics.

Keywords: social movements politics; Loaves & Fishes; The Salvation Army; caring; moral selving; emotion cultures; social change

Chapter.  7038 words. 

Subjects: Social Movements and Social Change

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