Skip to Content

Search: {{$root.lsaSearchQuery.q}}, Page {{$}}

The 2022 Ferrando Lecture

Juliana Bidadanure
Wednesday, November 16, 2022
4:00-6:00 PM
Pendleton Michigan Union Map
November 16th
4:00pm- 6:00pm
Pendleton Room, Michigan

Understanding Demonization

In the age of individual responsibility, those at the bottom of the income hierarchy are routinely shamed. Out-of-work benefits claimants are subject to particularly severe forms of vilification, their unemployment being portrayed as resulting from personal failings. When these shortcomings are constructed as moral failings, we enter the space of what I call “demonization”. Demonization is the portrayal of individuals as wicked threats to the community and as worthy of deep moral contempt for their alleged behavior. Benefits recipients are demonized when they undergo sustained attacks on their moral character, when they are viewed as deliberately choosing idleness over hard work. The trope of the lazy free rider living at taxpayers’ expense is remarkably uniform across advanced economies and has been an effective strategy to undermine support for welfare. Because demonization diminishes its target’s moral standing, it pauses a critical threat to our ability to stand as equals, which contemporary theorists allege to be an essential component of a just and democratic society. Starting from the example of benefits recipients, my paper identifies several morally significant steps in the workings of demonization, clarifies its social function, and characterizes precisely what makes it wrong
Building: Michigan Union
Event Type: Lecture / Discussion
Tags: Philosophy
Source: Happening @ Michigan from Department of Philosophy, Program in Philosophy, Politics & Economics