The initial reasons for me wanting to do this project is based around my increasing dissatisfaction with the way in which the collective society of this first world country I live in deals with helping those in need. I was watching a documentary on the BBC, where the investigative journalist Stacey Dooley travels to Japan to look into the underage pornography problem in that country. I felt frustrated by the way that Stacey was talking to the people there and the undeniable judgmental tone of voice. I was thinking, why is she creating an investigative documentary about a topic that she clearly does not have a passionate vested interest in. Especially when I compared this video with a previous series of documentaries that she created about the lack of women’s’ rights across the world, where it was clear that she had a vested interest in these women’s’ rights. This then led me to think more generally about our society, and the ways in which we ‘manage’ charity work. So we will dedicate one day of the year to Children in Need where people are publicly praised for raising £300 in a cake sale, and after that day they do not think about the charity again for another year. I wanted to think in more detail about Altruism and the possibilities of people being able to actually do selfless acts, with no gain to them what so ever, and if doing ‘selfless’ act should even be considered a important or highly regarded ideal in society when we are animals and have extremely primitive roots.
In the first week of this project I have spent a lot of my time doing in-depth research into Altruism, as I have tried to gain a deeper understanding into the viability of individuals being altruistic. I have read a book called ’50 psychology ideas you really need to know’ written by Adrian Furnham, and in the chapter called ‘Self-Sacrifice’ Furnham suggests various different reasons why someone may be likely to help someone else. For example, both men and women are just as likely to help someone in need but the reason that men help people is different from the reasons why a women might. For men they will help because they want to be seen as heroic and chivalrous, whereas for women they are likely to help people because they are more caring and nurturing. There are many factors that make up a person including gender, race and religion that can contribute to the reasons why someone is more likely to help someone selflessly, or not help at all or even help someone to benefit themselves in some way.
My next step in this project is to start researching artists and different schools of thought about Altruism so that I can start to conceive an idea of what road I might want my project to go down ultimately.