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Dangerous victims: on some political dangers of vicarious claims to victimhood

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Dangerous victims : on some political dangers of vicarious claims to victimhood. / Williams, Garrath.

In: Distinktion - Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, Vol. 9, No. 2, 2008, p. 77-95.

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Harvard

Williams, G 2008, 'Dangerous victims: on some political dangers of vicarious claims to victimhood', Distinktion - Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory, vol. 9, no. 2, pp. 77-95. https://doi.org/10.1080/1600910X.2008.9672965

APA

Vancouver

Author

Williams, Garrath. / Dangerous victims : on some political dangers of vicarious claims to victimhood. In: Distinktion - Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory. 2008 ; Vol. 9, No. 2. pp. 77-95.

Bibtex

@article{1fca7fe1ced54585a3e2e54e07489b76,
title = "Dangerous victims: on some political dangers of vicarious claims to victimhood",
abstract = "As we have seen in the cases of Serbia and Israel, collectives can be mobilised to perpetrate grave wrongs on the basis of patently ideological claims about the harms they have suffered. This article seeks a theoretical understanding of this troubling phenomenon. It does so, first, by contrasting mobilisation based on vicarious victimhood with revenge. The groups in question do not exhibit the contact with reality and clear sense of agency that are prerequisites for revenge. However, these evasions of agency and reality are not specific to group identities centred on victimhood. Second, therefore, the article considers the attractions of such an identity and how it reinforces groups’ tendencies to myth-making and irresponsibility. Among its more harmful effects, it obscures the realities of state power and forecloses meaningful accountability to those outside the group. It also sets in train a vicious circle, whereby the group discovers perverse incentives to harm others – and to harm itself. Yet these harms only reinforce the group’s self-anointed status as victim: as always done by, never doing to.",
keywords = "Collective agency, collective responsibility, Israel, myth, nationalism, Serbia, victimhood",
author = "Garrath Williams",
note = "This version includes some footnotes omitted in the published text.",
year = "2008",
doi = "10.1080/1600910X.2008.9672965",
language = "English",
volume = "9",
pages = "77--95",
journal = "Distinktion - Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory",
issn = "1600-910X",
publisher = "Routledge",
number = "2",

}

RIS

TY - JOUR

T1 - Dangerous victims

T2 - on some political dangers of vicarious claims to victimhood

AU - Williams, Garrath

N1 - This version includes some footnotes omitted in the published text.

PY - 2008

Y1 - 2008

N2 - As we have seen in the cases of Serbia and Israel, collectives can be mobilised to perpetrate grave wrongs on the basis of patently ideological claims about the harms they have suffered. This article seeks a theoretical understanding of this troubling phenomenon. It does so, first, by contrasting mobilisation based on vicarious victimhood with revenge. The groups in question do not exhibit the contact with reality and clear sense of agency that are prerequisites for revenge. However, these evasions of agency and reality are not specific to group identities centred on victimhood. Second, therefore, the article considers the attractions of such an identity and how it reinforces groups’ tendencies to myth-making and irresponsibility. Among its more harmful effects, it obscures the realities of state power and forecloses meaningful accountability to those outside the group. It also sets in train a vicious circle, whereby the group discovers perverse incentives to harm others – and to harm itself. Yet these harms only reinforce the group’s self-anointed status as victim: as always done by, never doing to.

AB - As we have seen in the cases of Serbia and Israel, collectives can be mobilised to perpetrate grave wrongs on the basis of patently ideological claims about the harms they have suffered. This article seeks a theoretical understanding of this troubling phenomenon. It does so, first, by contrasting mobilisation based on vicarious victimhood with revenge. The groups in question do not exhibit the contact with reality and clear sense of agency that are prerequisites for revenge. However, these evasions of agency and reality are not specific to group identities centred on victimhood. Second, therefore, the article considers the attractions of such an identity and how it reinforces groups’ tendencies to myth-making and irresponsibility. Among its more harmful effects, it obscures the realities of state power and forecloses meaningful accountability to those outside the group. It also sets in train a vicious circle, whereby the group discovers perverse incentives to harm others – and to harm itself. Yet these harms only reinforce the group’s self-anointed status as victim: as always done by, never doing to.

KW - Collective agency

KW - collective responsibility

KW - Israel

KW - myth

KW - nationalism

KW - Serbia

KW - victimhood

U2 - 10.1080/1600910X.2008.9672965

DO - 10.1080/1600910X.2008.9672965

M3 - Journal article

VL - 9

SP - 77

EP - 95

JO - Distinktion - Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory

JF - Distinktion - Scandinavian Journal of Social Theory

SN - 1600-910X

IS - 2

ER -