The Benefits of Being A Bit Of An Asshole
Schrag, A. (2014) The Benefits of Being A Bit Of An Asshole, Journal of Arts & Communities, vol. 6, , pp. 85-97,
In the UK, over the past decade, Socially Engaged practices have been variously employed to eradicate conflict and produce artworks that are diverse, multiple, all-welcoming and that smooth the turbulence of social tensions. Rosalyn Deutsche however argues that 'Conflict, division, and instability-_do not ruin the democratic public sphere; they are conditions of its existence', (Deutsche, 1996: 295-296) and, as Bishop suggests - paraphrasing Laclau and Mouffe - 'a democratic society is one in which relations of conflict are sustained, not erased' (Bishop, 2004: 66). This article, written from the informal perspective of a practitioner with decades of experience within the field and currently undertaking doctoral research into the topic, presents the case for more conflict within socially engaged practices, not less. Indeed, in order to counteract the 'social engineering' tendencies of participatory practices that stem of governmental policies and funding bodies, the author suggests that it is ethically imperative to be a 'bit of an asshole' when working within the public realm, and that this approach is the only way to provide the emancipatory insights that the genre ostensibly offers to communities.