Who is to blame for Food Bank Britain? An analysis of the geographies of responsibility through the experiences of the Edinburgh food bank community
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A qualitative analysis of the geographies of responsibility pertaining to the recently reported increases in demand within the food bank system. Interviews were conducted with fifty volunteers and clients from the Edinburgh food bank community, in order to evaluate their views of responsibility for apparent increased demand for food banks, assuming an intersubjective approach (Savin-Baden and Howell Major, 2013). The UK Government denies any links between welfare reforms and trends of increased poverty, putting emphasis on the role of civil society in dealing with hunger (through Big Society rhetoric). This idea appears to be universally refuted by the food bank community and members of the opposition (including the devolved Scottish Government). Food bank workers felt a subjective, short-term obligation to their clients, but felt that state intervention was a more appropriate solution. Many saw injustice in the mere presence of food banks in their home town. Food bank clients felt a lack of control in their circumstances and that the moral responsibility and agency in maintaining structural injustice lay with the Government (Braham and van Hees (2012). By holding the state responsible through the recent welfare reforms, civil society puts pressure on the Government to accept responsibility and act accordingly. National pride in the UK Government was missing from all interviews, making it impossible to assign associated “concomitant responsibility” for involvement in the democratic process (Abdel-Nour, 2003). Alternatively, some saw an independent Scotland as the solution to issues of poverty. The Edinburgh food bank community call for politicisation of food poverty through governmental intervention and acceptance of responsibility. If links between welfare reforms and a rise in food poverty are found to be indubitably valid, the state will have to accept attributive responsibility. Edinburgh food bank community members (as representatives of civil society) currently see socio-structural violence in their country (Giddens, 1979; Galtung, 1969, in Bilgin, 2003:3).