3 Meaning as social
In this section, you will be exploring the topic of charitable giving, in particular examining the factors that can influence it. In so doing, a further aspect of the ‘social nature of being human’ will be focused on.
While in the previous two sections the social aspect of human existence was quite conspicuous and we had groups containing a sizeable quantity of people, this section will start with the image of a seemingly very intimate encounter: giving money to someone who is homeless. What is more, it may be thought that our motivation to give (or not to) is simply a function of our individual psyche: our individual attitudes, as standard social psychology textbooks would phrase it. So where is the ‘social’ in all this? As you will see in this section, these seemingly individual actions, experiences and attitudes actually occur in a context of perceptions and meanings that are always and inevitably socially shared and constructed. That is to say, although the act of giving involves a supposedly private thought in an individual’s head and a supposedly intimate act between two individuals, it is also a very social act and a function of a web of the political, cultural or moral meanings that are always socially constructed.