"Ideologies of Gratitude"
University of Minnesota Philosophy Department, Sept. 14, 2018
Gratitude gets a lot of good press: It is a central virtue in many religious and secular ethical frameworks, it is core in positive psychology research, and it comes highly recommended by the self-improvement set. But gratitude has a dark side. In this talk, I argue that certain systematic expectations and patterns of gratitude function as ideologies, in the pejorative sense—that is, they serve to mask and reinforce oppression. I take as an entry point Claudia Card’s and Brittney Cooper’s arguments that expecting gratitude from the oppressed for merely decent treatment conveys that they are less deserving of basic recognition respect and social esteem than members of dominant classes. I develop from these arguments an account of such expectations as ideological. Finaly, I demonstrate how that account reveals the ideological nature of expectations and practices of “employee appreciation.”
Brandeis University Dept. of Philosophy
8th Annual Mini-Conference: "Forgiveness," April 13, 2019