Thinking Sociologically About Kindness: Puncturing the Blasé in the Ordinary City

Brownlie, J. (Speaker)

Activity: Academic talk or presentation typesInvited talk


Despite academic interest in related ideas (such as solidarity, community, neighbouring and reciprocity) kindness has been the focus of little serious theoretical or empirical scrutiny. Drawing on a recent study of everyday help and support in Glasgow, we speculate about why that might be the case, and highlight features of ‘ordinary’ kindness which might render it sociologically relevant. As such, we argue that – as much as Simmel’s blasé outlook – small acts of kindness are part of how we can understand city living. At the same time, we caution against public discourses that reduce kindness to a matter of ‘randomness’ or individual morality, psychology or decision-making, arguing instead for a radical re-envisioning of the concept – one that revisits its etymological roots and embeds it in the realm of the social.
Period15 Nov 2017
Held atYork University