On the the first week of the Easter break I decided to focus on collecting interesting opinions and ideas surrounding supporting charities and how different individuals would prioritize one group over another. I wanted to collect sound clips that I could then bring together to complete my installation.
I used the research and data that I had collected earlier in the project to compose questions to ask different people and also record their voice whilst I was doing this.
The first question was:
‘Do you prefer giving or receiving a gift?’
With this question I wanted an opener that people would find more straightforward, and although the question does not give me any responses that directly speak altruism, as both choices involve emotion as you are choosing which one makes you feel better, the question can give a suggestion of the type of person that you are talking to as the answers suggest how people like to see themselves or how much they care about others gratification and feelings.
The second question that I asked was:
‘Would you prefer to give money to a charity supporting animals or a charity supporting humans?’
The purpose behind this question was to see if each person would be more likely to participate and take an active role in the community versus favoring much more individualistic values, as from my initial research, it seems that those who are more involved in a community or group of people are much more likely to support human charities whilst those who are more on the outside are much more likely to favor animal charities, for example, according to the Guardian newspaper and the list of the 1000 most donated to charities, the Donkey Sanctuary received £18.5 million which makes up most of its income ‘in legacy giving from supporter’s wills.’ Therefore I felt like this was also an important question to ask as it addresses how people view community and everyone helping each other in society, however this question is not 100% asking people if they like being a part of a community or not, it is simply an indicator a lot of the time.
The third question that I asked was:
‘If you had to pick only one charity to support and give money to, which charity/ organisation would you choose and why?’
The reason that I choose a much more open ended question as the last scripted question is because I wanted to try to see the variety of answers that people may give which means that I can potentially get a variety of different responses.
Deciding who to ask, and thinking about the range that I wanted and needed meant that I did decide to go out on the streets and ask as many people as a could and as wide a variety of people as I could. I am aware that one of the main drawbacks of this project is the fact that the premise behind it means talking to as many people as I can from all socioeconomic backgrounds, all genders and all ages, which can add a lot of variables into my research that I can not necessarily control. I traveled down south to Kent to see family which meant that I was able to talk to my Grandma and my Nanna, and ask them all of the questions that I wanted to, I also took photographs of everybody that I spoke to, like the photograph of my Grandma, which I will use as a reference point to help inspire one of my installations.
I also spoke to some men in a premier inn Beef Eater who were sitting by the bar. I also had a long and in depth conversation with my Uncle, who lives in Lincolnshire and is also fairly wealthy. I found that the middle aged men that I asked often had very similar answers, and so I decided that for one of my installations I could combine the middle aged men into one category, as they all believed that they would rather support an animal charity over humans as humans are able to ‘help themselves’ and they all said that they would rather give a gift because they have the resources to get all of the materialistic things that they could want or need in their lives.
When I came back to the north at the end of this week I spoke to a woman who works at a Bargain Booze, and I learnt a lot about her priorities about supporting and helping others which can always directly come back to the fact that she is fiercely protective of her children, and anything that she would do to help others would have steamed from something she had done to help her children. I also spoke to her son who is 11 who said that he would want to help other people like him who have dyslexia. What I learnt from these two is that helping those in your wider community comes directly after helping your immediate family which I felt could become another interesting viewpoint.
I also spoke to various 16/17 year old boys who mainly gave uninspired answers without thinking about the questions that I had asked them, giving brief responses that they would not expand upon. But one of the 16 year old boys that I asked was very passionate about English and history, and when I asked him if he thought it was possible for a human to do a truly selfless act he said no because it has been proved throughout history that humans are ultimately greedy, and that this is how nature has built us, therefore we cannot change that, another type of person with an interesting viewpoint.
I also talked to a middle aged woman, a self employed architect, who lives in the countryside and owns hens that lay eggs, she is very middle class and liberal, and I particularly found it interesting comparing her responses to that of the woman’s from Bargain Booze, as whilst the Bargain Booze woman was very much focused on her immediate family, especially her two boys, the countryside women gave her money to the red cross for a long time, which is a charity that supports people in crisis wherever they are around the world. I felt as though it is interesting to compare two people from completely different socioeconomic backgrounds, and how this may impact on the ways in which they might choose to help others in wider society. For one it is all about being very hands on and thinking about things that have a direct impact upon them, and for the other they are perhaps just donating money to those around the world who are suffering injustice, without a particular focus.
Whilst I was talking to my Uncle he pointed out a couple of ideas that I felt it might be important to note. Firstly, his beliefs about true altruism, sparked a conversation regarding the anonymity of celebrities like George Michael who did a lot of charity work without anyone knowing until he died. This reinforces the idea that the closest that people can come to being altruistic is when they can only feel pleasure or benefit from themselves when helping others and they can derive no pleasure from third party sources praising them.
The second point that my uncle made that I thought was insightful, was to do with the fact that by asking the questions face to face and reccording the answers that people gave, this could potentially gove contrasting answers than if I had asked them to simply fill in an online questionaire. An online questionaire would have perhaps taken away the pressure of wanting to give ‘the right answer’ with me sitting there recording them. Also the potential for anonymity with an online questionaire could also produce more honest answers. However, I do not think that asking people face to face is the wrong way for me to go about gaining information on peoples opinions and attitudes surrounding helping other and altruism, as even if they have lied or twisted the truth slightly with their answers in my final outcome their opinions and stories will be made anonymous, and they will lose any chance for third party appreciation which is a consept that I am trying to put across in my project; the idea that they will be punished in my piece by loosing their identity, as they can not claim their verbal opinions and thoughts as their own.
I am planing to spend the next week of the Easter organising all of the chairs that I wish to include in my final piece so that I can think about and visualise how I wish to structure the final outcome.