Virtue-signalling as a route to social status: instances from the semi-periphery

Collaboration with Dalma Fero. Two case studies of progressivist virtue signalling as it plays out on the semi-periphery: a liberal-sjw kind of Facebook page and a network of neo-'anarchists', and how their discourses are both strikingly individualist and both reinforce the dichotomy between eastern 'backwardness' and western 'progression'.

"Not all issues are ‘worth’ representing to the same extent. Some issues are presented as the cutting edge of human rights struggle and hence get more media attention and funding. Nancy Fraser’s analysis about how different groups (e.g. blacks, women, homosexuals) are situated with respect to matters of redistribution as well as of recognition, help to explain why groups experiencing more recognition- than redistribution-related injustices have become increasingly central to the human rights discourse of recent decades. Such issues can be more easily presented as mere questions of tolerance and humanity and therefore have more potential to be instrumentalised while legitimizing the current socio-political system.
Thus, while liberal feminist and liberal anti-racist advocacy – masquerading the fact that the injustices these groups experience have a material basis – have become capitalism’s ‘handmaidens’, this material embeddedness makes them less effective handmaidens than groups with issues less directly connected to redistribution, such as LGBT rights."

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