Week 2

After spending the first week of my project conducting in-depth research, by reading various books and articles, I began to consider how I could put my research into practice by creating some kind of fake campaign that would spark a reaction from people, so that I could then ask them questions about how they feel about helping others and their thoughts and opinions on various charities and campaigns.

I wanted to try to think of some kind of campaign, which had a ridiculous message, but that people would buy into if they only looked at the campaign on a surface level. One idea that I had was ‘save horses from being forced to sleep on itchy hay ’ although this may not have been the best message, as it is fairly obvious to a large proportion of the population that hay is not uncomfortable to horses the principle of the example suggests someone on the street telling a story about the harsh reality of horses living conditions whether real or not, would draw some people in to support the campaign, even if this is just through a simple signature. I think that this would prove a point or at least give me more insight into the ways in which people support campaigns or charities, by either, ignoring it altogether, stopping and signing up without questioning or stopping, questioning the charity or campaign and then deciding whether  it is a cause worth supporting or not. I think that it is also important to note that asking people to support a charity out on the street is one of many ways that people are approached or targeted by charities, and that my method would only culminate curtain responses, as for example, whilst someone might walk past you on the street, if they received a leaflet through the door they might take a look and invest time and money into the charity. However, for my specific project its success somewhat lies in me being able to go out and talk to a wide range of people from different classes and cultures so that I can see if it is possible to categorize, find trends and come to some kind of coherent conclusion about altruism, and its realistically as a concept, and learning all of the individual opinions that people have.

I wanted to try to gauge how likely it is for someone to support a campaign in order to clear their conscious, without having any kind of real vested interest or concern for the charity or cause.

I feel as though what I really want to express and show through this project is that to some extent there is as systematic failure in the way that our society treats charity work.  To me there is a sense that as a society we manage all of the charity work so that people can feel better about themselves for donating or raising a certain amount of money and then not worry or think about that charity for at least another year. I am particularly thinking about ‘Children in Need’ and ‘Red Nose Day’ as our country seems to celebrate those for raising any amount of money. But I think why should we celebrate this person? Should they not want to help children in need without any public celebration or mass counting of money. Of course, this is a massive generalisation, and there are many people who truly are invested in helping others and supporting charities, but I am trying to see how people’s attitudes towards charities differ from person to person depending on their personality, their socio economic factors, and suchlike.

To gather information in the most effective way, about people’s priorities when it comes to helping in society, I began to create a series of campaigns and scenarios that I  was going to ask people to compare and rank in order of importance. I hoped that this mightgive me clarity on which idea to use in a fake campaign.

They were:

‘Giving horses itchy hay must stop now’

‘Raise MP’s salary to £100,000 per year’

‘Help those with paedophilic thoughts get the support that they need’

‘Gain awareness, respect and support for those with mental health issues’

‘ Help women travel to worn torn countries and support women who are less fortunate than them’

‘Stop letting people walk across sand dunes as they are destroying birds homes’

‘Make drama, music and art compulsory on the leaning syllabus in school instead of maths and physics’

 

The reasons that I choose all of these scenarios, as fake campaigns are very specific, some of them seem like obvious choices over others, but this is simply a diversion to see how people view all of the other ideas for campaigns, which fall into a bit more of a grey area. I included examples of animals in need, along with humans in need as the contrast between the two and which people choose can bring up interesting suggestions about their personalities, like wether they are more community minded or not. The inspiration for choosing animals vs humans as examples came from me reading the Guardian’s ranking list for the ‘top 1000 charities’ based purely on ‘donations’. I was surprised to see that the Royal Society  for the Protection of Birds was 15th on the list, above the British Heart Foundation and Marie Curie Cancer Care.  I thought that is experiment would also suggest something about each individual’s personality, conscience and intelligence levels.

However, after counducting this experiment a few times,the results from various people were not as inspiring or interesting as I thought that they would be.  I began to feel as though I had no clear direction for the project, interms of an artistic response. My aim for the next week is to start to formulate a way in which I could turn my concept and detailed research into a piece of physical art.

 

Week 1

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.