Res Publica (2021) 27:347–367
Cosmopolitan Sentiment: Politics, Charity, andGlobal
Published online: 29 July 2020
© The Author(s) 2020
Duties to address global poverty face a motivation gap. We have good reasons for
acting yet we do not, at least consistently. A ‘sentimental education’, featuring lit-
erature and journalism detailing the lives of distant others has been suggested as a
promising means by which to close this gap (Nussbaum in Upheavals of Thought:
The Intelligence of Emotions, CUP, Cambridge, 2001; Rorty in Truth and Progress:
Philosophical Papers, vol. 3, CUP, Cambridge, 1998). Although sympathetic to
this project, I argue that it is too heavily wed to a charitable model of our duties to
address global poverty—understood as requiring we sacriﬁce a certain portion of
our income. However, political action, aimed at altering institutions at both a global
and a local level is likely to be necessary in order to provide eﬀective long-term
solutions to poverty globally. To rectify this, the article develops an alternative dia-
logical account of sentimental education, suitable for motivating support for politi-
cal action to address global poverty.
Keywords Sentiment· Cosmopolitanism· Motivation· Global justice
Duties to address global poverty face a motivation gap (Lichtenberg 2014; Long
2009). We have good reasons for acting yet we do not, at least not consistently. A
‘sentimental education’, in which literature and journalism detailing the lives of dis-
tant others serves to encourage greater aﬀective identiﬁcation with these individuals
(Nussbaum 2001; Rorty 1998), has been suggested as a promising means by which
to close this gap.
Although sympathetic to this project, this article argues that it is too heavily wed-
ded to a charitable model of our duties to address global poverty, understood as
* Joshua Hobbs
1 Interdisciplinary Ethics Applied, University ofLeeds, 17 Blenheim Terrace, LeedsLS29JT,
requiring we sacriﬁce a certain portion of our income. However, political action,
aimed at altering institutions at both a global and a local level is likely to be neces-
sary in order to provide eﬀective long-term solutions to poverty globally. I then go
on to develop an alternative account of sentimental education, suitable for motivat-
ing support for political action to address global poverty.
The argument is divided into three sections. Section one outlines the traditional
model of sentimental education, and argues that it faces two key shortcomings as a
means to motivate support for political strategies to address global poverty. Firstly, it
presents individuals facing poverty globally in a manner that obscures their capacity
for agency; however, political strategies to address global poverty rely on a picture
of these individuals as capable agents. Secondly, this model leads to aﬀective con-
nections with distant others that are highly abstract in nature. Motivating eﬀective
political solutions requires the development of more speciﬁc aﬀective ties.
Drawing on the arguments advanced in section one, section two develops an alter-
native model of sentimental education as dialogue, conducive to motivating political
action. As dialogue may not always be feasible in practice, dialogue operates here
as a guiding ideal rather than a strict requirement. I argue that processes of dialogue
will typically be mediated in practice, through the presence of third parties, such as
journalists or NGOs, and examine what appropriate mediation entails.
Section three applies this dialogic model of sentimental education to four sites of
sentimental education: (i) the media, (ii) NGO practices, (iii) formal education, and
(vi) the international trade union movement. In doing so, I highlight examples of
good practice, which serve to demonstrate that the account oﬀered here is not only
practically feasible, it is a reality in action.
Section One: Political Solutions, Agency, andAbstraction
Political andCharitable Approaches
Within liberal political theory there is some consensus that individuals in the richer
communities of the world ought to act to address global poverty. In determining
what action this obligation entails, theorists have oﬀered two broad approaches.
The ﬁrst approach, as exempliﬁed by Peter Singer, argues that the relatively aﬄu-
ent ought to divert a sizable portion of their income to the more eﬀective aid organi-
sations. Singer oﬀers a number of examples of such organisations, but he primar-
ily focuses on those addressing infectious diseases and delivering supplies in the
aftermath of humanitarian crises (Singer 2010, pp. 81–105). The second approach,
associated with the work of Thomas Pogge, argues that the globally aﬄuent ought
to pressure their own governments to support the reform of global institutions that
act to systematically disadvantage less aﬄuent nations (Pogge 2002). In keeping
with the current literature (Kuper 2002; Langlois 2008) I will refer to these two
approaches as charitable and political accounts of duties to reduce global poverty.
To avoid potential misunderstandings, the use of the term ‘charitable’ here in no
way implies that proponents of the former approach take donations towards aid
organisations to be supererogatory.
Cosmopolitan Sentiment: Politics, Charity, andGlobal Poverty
In drawing a distinction between political and charitable accounts of duties to
reduce global poverty previous discussions have highlighted the following features:
(i) charitable accounts tend to emphasise ﬁnancial donations in contrast to politi-
cal activism; (ii) political accounts typically focus on long-term solutions to chronic
poverty, whereas charitable accounts primarily focus on alleviating immediate need
(Singer 1972). At the level of framing the following two further distinctions can be
drawn: (iii) charitable relationships are traditionally understood to involve a signiﬁ-
cant power diﬀerential between the helper and the helped, with agency primarily
lying with the former. As Kirk observes, ‘charity…rests on the interaction between
a powerful giver—be that an individual or a nation—and a grateful receiver. In this
paradigm, agency lies almost exclusively with the powerful givers’ (2012, p. 248).
(iv) Political approaches tend to emphasise the agent’s own causal complicity in
global poverty, for example through beneﬁting from or supporting an unjust inter-
national order that is at least partially responsible for much poverty globally (Pogge
2002). It is important to note that for each of these features this is a question of
emphasis rather than a strict binary. However, I take these distinctions to capture
important diﬀerences between charitable and political accounts, and, for the pur-
poses of this paper, employ a family resemblance view of the two approaches based
on the features outlined.
There is a signiﬁcant and nuanced literature on strategies to develop more cosmo-
politan orientations, to which I cannot do full justice here. Advocates of institu-
tional solutions argue that a lack of motivation to address global poverty and other
injustices can be largely attributed to a lack of robust global institutions (Ulas 2017;
Weinstock 2009). These theorists suggest that collective membership of global insti-
tutions could, over time, lead to the formation of a robust sense of community with
distant others—motivating individuals to live up to their cosmopolitan commit-
ments (Ulas 2017). Statist cosmopolitans advocate utilising the machinery of the
state to create more cosmopolitan identiﬁcations amongst the citizenry (Ypi 2008).
Although sceptical concerning the broader cosmopolitan project, Lenard (2012)
argues that the resources employed by nation states to inculcate robust national
identities might be fruitfully applied to the task of creating cosmopolitan identiﬁ-
cations. Avoiding a binary understanding of national versus cosmopolitan identity,
Erskine’s account of ‘embedded cosmopolitanism’ (2008) has explored multiple and
overlapping sources of identiﬁcation that may be able to motivate individuals to act
in a more cosmopolitan manner without identifying as a cosmopolitan as such. Pro-
ponents of ‘thick cosmopolitanism’ recommend highlighting causal relationships
between individuals in more aﬄuent countries and distant others (Lawford-Smith
2010; Linklater 2007; Dobson 2006). This strategy combines Pogge’s (2002) argu-
ment that individuals in more aﬄuent countries are causally responsible for harm-
ing the global poor, through the collective imposition of unfair trading terms at the
global level, with the psychological assumption that we feel greater moral urgency
to rectify harms caused by our actions, than to address similar harms for which we
are not causally responsible (Lawford-Smith 2010). Other theorists have rightly
drawn attention to the other-directed nature of this debate, arguing that the task of
motivating cosmopolitan behaviour need not purely rest on duty or fellow-feeling
but can be in part supported by citizen’s rational self-interest (Bufacchi 2005), for
example, through reducing the risk of global pandemics or unrest fostered by severe
poverty (Weinstock 2009).
The sentimental cosmopolitan approach, which is the focus of this article, argues
that limited action to address global poverty and other global injustices can be
explained by a lack of aﬀective concern for distant others on the part of individu-
als in more aﬄuent countries. To address this, sentimental cosmopolitans recom-
mend a process of ‘sentimental education’ where exposure to sympathetic portrayals
of distant others in media and narrative art serve to develop the aﬀective connec-
tions necessary for cosmopolitan arguments to motivate. In doing so, sentimental
cosmopolitanism foregrounds the (plausible) assumption that aﬀect is central to
moral motivation (Green etal. 2001; Izard and Ackerman 2000). Finally, it should
be noted that these approaches are not competitors, and that the complex task of
motivating cosmopolitan action likely requires employing a variety of these strate-
gies in tandem.
The Traditional Model ofSentimental Education
The concept of a ‘sentimental education’ has been developed in recent sentimen-
tal cosmopolitan scholarship (Woods 2012; Long 2009), but has two primary
sources. Richard Rorty’s (1998) argument that journalism and literature encourag-
ing sentimental identiﬁcation with groups previously seen as other have played a
key role in encouraging respect for human rights globally, and Martha Nussbaum’s
(2001) account of the role of art and literature within formal education as a means
to encourage the extension of compassion beyond national borders. Although these
two accounts diﬀer in some respects, they share a number of important features.
Drawing on the commonalities between these two accounts I will oﬀer a brief sketch
of what cosmopolitan sentimental education is typically understood to entail. The
picture provided here is not intended to be exhaustive, but to serve as a reference
point for the discussion which follows.
The basic claim that underlies the idea of a sentimental education is that expo-
sure to representations of the lives of distant others, in narrative art and print and
television journalism, can lead to increased sentimental identiﬁcation with those fac-
ing similar hardships. This increased sentimental identiﬁcation can in turn motivate
a greater propensity to undertake action in support of these individuals. From this
basic claim I wish to draw out three features: (i) the nature of the sentimental con-
nection, (ii) how this is achieved, and (iii) the end towards which this connection is
The nature of the connection. Both accounts are concerned that those in posi-
tions of relative power develop kinder feelings towards marginalised others. Rorty
primarily focuses on the extension of sympathy to those suﬀering from human rights
abuses (1998), whereas Nussbaum’s account advocates developing compassion for
Cosmopolitan Sentiment: Politics, Charity, andGlobal Poverty
the suﬀerings of individuals beyond national borders (1993). We can note two com-
monalities here. First, both accounts focus on developing a unidirectional sentimen-
tal connection on the part of those in positions of relative power, for those suﬀer-
ing injustices. Second, on both accounts, attention is directed towards the suﬀering
other, with notions of responsibility for their suﬀering playing a minimal role.
How the connection is achieved. Both authors share the conviction that repre-
sentations of the lives of distant others, encountered in narrative art and within the
media, are the primary means by which to encourage this extension of aﬀective con-
cern. However, there is a diﬀerence of emphasis. Rorty’s account focuses on the
role of journalism, and what he terms ‘middlebrow art forms’, such as popular nov-
els, and television shows (1991, pp. 66–85) encountered in day-to-day life. Nuss-
baum does not deny that these mediums are important, but argues that their con-
tent is especially vulnerable to being determined by market pressure (2001, p. 435).
Instead, Nussbaum’s account focuses on the role of narrative art forms, especially
literature, encountered during formal education, as a means of promoting sentimen-
tal concern (2001, pp. 425–433).
It is important to note three things here. First, encounters with representations
of the lives of distant others operate in place of actual interaction with these oth-
ers. This is a point to which I return below. Second, in this process encounters with
depictions of the lives of distant others are necessarily mediated to some degree,
for example through the presence of journalists or educators (Woods 2012, pp.
41–44). Third, on both accounts, images of suﬀering others serve as the primary
means by which to provoke increased sentimental concern. Nussbaum’s account of
the structure of compassion makes it clear that she considers this emotion to arise in
response to suﬀering, requiring that an agent must ‘consider the suﬀering of another
as a signiﬁcant part of his or her own scheme of goals and ends’, and take this suf-
fering to be both serious, and undeserved (2001, p. 319). Similarly, Rorty suggests
that sentimental education requires people to ‘turn their eyes toward the people who
are getting hurt, [and] notice the details of the pain being suﬀered’ (1998, p. 80).
Intended action. Although both authors oﬀer a relatively incomplete picture of
the action they hope a sentimental education to motivate, neither oﬀers an explic-
itly political model of this action. For Nussbaum, global poverty is one of a num-
ber of cosmopolitan injustices that a sentimental education can motivate action to
address (1996, pp. 3–17). The focus of Rorty’s 1993 Amnesty lecture is on reduc-
ing negative human rights violations (traditionally understood); however, in other
work Rorty (1991) suggests a sentimental education can motivate action to address
global poverty, but is relatively silent on what action this entails. Although neither
author rules out political action to address global poverty, both operate with a pri-
marily charitable model of the action required. Political responses to global poverty
aim to identify institutional causes of global poverty and promote alternative insti-
tutional arrangements; however, there is scant attention to the institutional causes of
global poverty, and identifying responsible parties, on either Rorty’s or Nussbaum’s
account. Although responsibility features on Nussbaum’s model insofar as for com-
passion to be appropriate an agent’s suﬀering must be undeserved, Nussbaum does
not take the further step of identifying responsible parties, or institutional causes
of this suﬀering. Rorty’s account shares this lack of emphasis on identifying those
responsible for suﬀering. As Woods observes, on Rorty’s account ‘sympathy ﬂoats
free from responsibility, suﬀering exists almost spontaneously. Agents encounter
suﬀering independent of causal factors and respond to it without questioning its
roots’ (2009, pp. 60–61).
I want to suggest that the traditional model of sentimental education faces two key
shortcomings as a means to motivate support for political action to address global
poverty. (i) The means by which the traditional model aims to bring about increased
sentimental identiﬁcation with individuals facing global poverty risks obscuring the
agency of these individuals. Woods (2012) and O’Neill (2000) have highlighted the
adverse eﬀects obscuring the agency of individuals facing global poverty has on
motivating support for attempts to address global poverty; however, here I make the
claim that this poses a particular problem for political approaches. (ii) The use of
representations of distant others to bring about an unidirectional increase in aﬀec-
tive concern on the part of the globally aﬄuent, lends itself to the development of an
excessively abstracted form of aﬀective identiﬁcation. However, political action to
reduce global poverty requires the cultivation of a more robust aﬀective relationship.
Concerns fortheTraditional Model
i. Agency and Political Action
Political action and perceptions of agency. The claim that support for political strat-
egies to reduce global poverty is especially linked to perceiving individuals facing
global poverty as active agents may, on the face of it, appear puzzling. However, a
link between perceptions of particular others as active agents, and a willingness to
come to the aid of these others, is a feature of much of the theoretical literature on
the concept of solidarity (Straehle 2010; Gould 2007). Solidarity, understood as a
particular kind of aﬀective relationship binding individuals or groups, and particu-
larly conducive to political action, is thought to diﬀer in kind from the aﬀective rela-
tionship underlying charitable donation. There is a danger of begging the question
at issue here, and drawing an overly sharp theoretical distinction between a political
solidarity, and an apolitical pity or compassion, where whichever aﬀective relation-
ships motivate support for political action necessarily fall into the former category,
and those motivating charitable donation, the latter. I do not wish to claim that such
a sharp distinction is tenable, or that those moved to act by solidaristic feelings will
not sometimes ﬁnd that their aims are best served by charitable donation, or vice
versa. Nevertheless, I do wish to argue that a form of aﬀective concern, which rec-
ognises the agency of its subject, may be particularly conducive to motivating politi-
cal strategies to reduce global poverty.
An initial route links agency to an expectation of reciprocity, or mutual aid,
thought to diﬀerentiate a robust disposition of solidarity, from feelings of pity or
compassion. As Carol Gould notes, ‘solidarity, rather than pity or compassion, is
thought to presuppose some degree of equality between agents, and an expectation
of reciprocity’ (2007, p. 154). This expectation of reciprocity or mutual aid nec-
essarily requires that we see those we stand in a solidaristic relationship with as
agents, capable of returning the favour, either now, or at some future time (Woods
Cosmopolitan Sentiment: Politics, Charity, andGlobal Poverty
2012, p. 41). Accordingly, solidarity may be more motivationally eﬃcacious than
compassion as it includes a weak prudential incentive. Political solutions to global
poverty, thought to place particular motivational burdens on individuals, can take
advantage of these additional motivational resources. However, this route faces two
serious concerns. First, reciprocity is unlikely in the case of distant others, as ‘these
others may not be aware of one’s actions in solidarity with them’ (Gould 2007, p.
154). Second, this looks especially untenable in the case of individuals facing global
poverty, as their ability to assist is necessarily limited.
Even if reciprocity provides little additional motivational resources in this con-
text, perceiving distant others as active agents may lead to more robust forms of sen-
timental identiﬁcation. This is because a capacity for agency is typically an impor-
tant feature in the self-understandings of the globally aﬄuent (Haldane 2008),1 and
perceiving distant others as fellow agents, rather than just passive victims, can plau-
sibly provide an additional source of identiﬁcation. However, fully pursuing this line
of argument requires empirical research beyond the scope of the paper; therefore, I
will instead oﬀer two reasons why recognising individuals facing global poverty as
active agents is especially important for motivating support for political strategies to
address global poverty.
First, political strategies to address global poverty that aim to alter global institu-
tions thought to be responsible for causing, or entrenching, global poverty, such as
unfair trade rules (Pogge 2002, pp. 169–172) presuppose the agency of individuals
facing global poverty. This is because taking advantage of alternative institutional
set-ups requires individuals facing global poverty to engage in complex practices,
such as international trade, which necessarily require a high level of agency (Woods
2012; O’Neill 2000). Where the global poor are not viewed as purposive agents such
strategies will appear implausible. This is compatible with the claim that the injus-
tice of current global institutions is precisely that they undermine people’s agency,
as these individuals’ agency would no longer be undermined by alternative insti-
tutional arrangements which allowed them opportunities to engage in purposive
activities. Moreover, all attempts to address global poverty presuppose some level
of agency on the part of those facing global poverty. However, support for ﬁnancial
donations to provide food, or immunisation programmes, is compatible with a view
of these individuals that attributes them a more minimal degree of agency.
Second, political strategies to address global poverty often require engaging with
particular individuals facing global poverty as active agents. This can either take
the form of working together to achieve a solution, such as supporting the political
struggles of those facing poverty globally, or individuals in more aﬄuent countries
may act alone, but enter into processes of dialogue to determine what action it is
appropriate for outsiders to take. In both cases Carol Gould’s requirement of ‘defer-
ence to those in need’ is operative, where it is normatively appropriate to consult
1 The centrality of the capacity for agency in the self-understandings of the globally aﬄuent, at least
those within the Western liberal tradition, can be seen in the literature on the ethics of care, which aims
to provide a corrective to this picture by emphasising our shared dependency and vulnerability to harm
those facing a particular injustice in determining solutions, and practically sensible,
as these individuals are likely to have relevant experiential knowledge of the situa-
tion (2007, p. 157). This is signiﬁcant, as deference to the judgements of individuals
facing global poverty, presupposes, not only a particularly high degree of agency on
their part, but respect for this agency. These strategies therefore are not only incom-
patible with a picture of individuals facing global poverty that obscures their agency,
but also with considering these individuals to be purposive agents with a lesser
capacity for agency than individuals in more aﬄuent countries.
Sentimental education and agency. I have argued elsewhere that strategies of sen-
timental education that rely on portraying individuals facing global poverty as suf-
fering and vulnerable in order to provoke aﬀective concern can have adverse moti-
vational eﬀects, increasing perceptions of distance between aﬄuent individuals and
individuals facing global poverty. I will not fully rehearse these arguments here, but
instead restate the general claim, and note two further ways in which the traditional
model of sentimental education can serve to obscure the agency of the individuals
for whom the process is intended to generate reactions of empathy and compassion.
Strategies of sentimental education that attempt to increase aﬀective concern for
individuals facing global poverty by emphasising their neediness, suﬀering, and vul-
nerability, are central to the traditional model of sentimental education, and are a
familiar feature of the campaigning literature employed by NGOs working in inter-
national poverty relief (Woods 2012, p. 41). However, if individuals facing global
poverty primarily appear to persons in aﬄuent countries in this manner, it can
undermine perceptions of these individuals as capable agents, a quality which typi-
cally features heavily in the self-understandings of individuals in aﬄuent countries
(Haldane 2008). To be clear, the claim here is not that ‘they’ are vulnerable and ‘we’
are not, or that ‘we’ are ‘capable agents’ and they are not. What I am suggesting is
that that such strategies present a misleading picture that both obscures the agency
of distant others and the vulnerability of the aﬄuent.2 Due to the links between
political strategies to address global poverty and perceptions of individuals facing
global poverty as active agents discussed above, this poses a particular problem for
motivating political action.
Where sentimental education focuses on cultivating aﬀective concern for those
suﬀering as a result of global injustices without also attending to questions of
responsibility, particularly at the institutional level, the agency of individuals facing
global poverty may be further obscured. When global poverty is encountered absent
attention to its political causes we are oﬀered an incomplete picture, of individuals
unable to secure the means to survive, rather than capable agents constrained by
unjust institutions. Here, perceptions of agency are compromised in two ways. First,
poverty may be interpreted as resulting from a lack of ability of the part of individu-
als facing global poverty, rather than due to institutional factors at a national and
global level. Second, insofar as a capacity for agency is compromised by the eﬀects
2 I use these terms as they are prevalent in the literature, while acknowledging that such language serves
to reinforce this picture.
Cosmopolitan Sentiment: Politics, Charity, andGlobal Poverty
of global poverty, this diminished agency may be taken for the norm, rather than as
a temporary situation.
A second issue is that charity is the current paradigm through which global pov-
erty is typically viewed by publics in more aﬄuent countries. This is corroborated
by empirical studies by Kirk etal. (2012). Here, there are two concerns. First, where
sentimental education does not explicitly focus on political causes and solutions to
global poverty, it will plausibly be interpreted within the dominant paradigm, as
it makes no attempt to challenge or question this approach. Second, the emphasis
within the traditional model of sentimental education on encouraging reactions of
sympathy or compassion may lend itself to interpretation within a charitable para-
digm, due to the lack of attention to responsibility for injustice in the structure of
these sentiments (Hobbs 2019). Moreover, as a number of theorists have argued
(Lichtenberg 2014, pp. 180–184; Woods 2012, p. 42), charitable relationships are
traditionally understood to involve a signiﬁcant power diﬀerential between a power-
ful giver and a beneﬁciary. This relationship can further obscure the agency of indi-
viduals facing global poverty. As Kirk notes, ‘most conceive of aid and development
as being acts of charity. Charity, in turn, rests on the interaction between a powerful
giver—be that an individual or a nation—and a grateful receiver. In this paradigm,
agency lies almost exclusively with the powerful givers’ (2012, p. 248).
Sentimental cosmopolitans propose that encounters with depictions of the lives of
distant others in narrative art or news media will, in the right circumstances, lead
to aﬀective concern for abstract representations of individuals facing global poverty
or the subjects of sympathetic news coverage, from which we are then encouraged
to generalise to like cases. In either instance, abstraction plausibly compromises the
motivational eﬃcaciousness of the sentimental connection. The ﬁrst issue is with
the process of generalisation itself, as the motivational eﬃcaciousness of aﬀective
concern for speciﬁc individuals (real or imagined) facing global poverty will likely
be compromised as we generalise to other cases. This is a problem for all attempts
to move from aﬀective connections to particular others to connections to groups to
which these individuals are taken to belong (Bartky 2002). However, where par-
ticular representations serve to cultivate connections with speciﬁc groups of simi-
larly situated individuals, rather than to a generalised ‘distant other’ or ‘global
poor’, these connections are likely to be both more robust and better able to motivate
informed action. Knowledge of the speciﬁcs of others’ situations is only possible
at this level. This knowledge is important, not only for identifying eﬀective solu-
tions, but also for developing suﬃciently robust aﬀective relationships, as in order to
care for others we plausibly need to know something about their actual situation. As
Woods notes ‘the motivational gap in cosmopolitan thought proceeds in part from
an epistemic one’ (2012, p. 91). A generalised concern looks both too thin to moti-
vate sustained action and prone to motivating action that is ill-informed.
A second issue concerns the feature, or features, that serve as the basis for gen-
eralisation from a particular sentimental story to other cases. Generalisation based
on shared poverty can undermine perceptions of the individuals concerned as capa-
ble agents. Here, the many diﬀerent causes and manifestations of global poverty are
ignored, and instead what is identiﬁed is a shared form of suﬀering, which is not
interrogated to address questions of responsibility or blame. Rather than attention
to speciﬁcs, and the attendant level of complexity, this strategy encourages an image
of a single body, ‘“[T]he poor” [who] are understood as an undiﬀerentiated group
without intrinsic strength, often referred to through the shorthand of “Africa,” where
nothing ever changes’ (Kirk 2012, p. 248).
Section Two: Sentimental Education Reconceived
Having outlined the shortcomings of the traditional model of sentimental education
as a means to motivate political action to address global poverty, I now oﬀer an
alternative model suitable for the task. The model presented here is dialogic, focus-
ing on the development of two-way ties between persons in aﬄuent countries and
particular groups or individuals facing global poverty.3 This model draws on Carol
Gould’s (2007) theorisation of ‘transnational solidarities’, as solidaristic ties linking
particular groups and individuals across borders, through the connections oﬀered by
globalisation. However, it diﬀers from Gould’s account in four key respects: (i) this
account is tailored to the speciﬁc case of global poverty, and the attendant problems
this brings for dialogue; (ii) the focus of the discussion here is applied, and con-
cerned with what dialogue entails in practice; (iii) dialogue operates on my account
as a guiding ideal, rather than a strict requirement; and (iv) I argue that dialogue will
typically rely on the presence of mediators.
A Dialogic Model
Where sentimental education proceeds through processes of dialogue rather than
through depictions of the lives of others in journalism or narrative art, this oﬀers
four advantages. First, dialogue with particular individuals and groups can lead
to more robust aﬀective ties. There is some consensus in the psychological litera-
ture that aﬀective ties tend to be more robust when they have individuals or small
groups as their object (Slovic 2007; Jenni and Lowenstein 1997). Moreover, rela-
tionships based on interaction are more likely to involve an accurate picture of the
other, than those based on representations alone. Where aﬀective connections are
based on an inaccurate picture, further interaction can serve to undermine these ties
(Brehm 1966). As discussed above, theorists of solidarity suggest aﬀective relation-
ships that include a condition of reciprocity are typically more robust. Insofar as
this is correct, processes of dialogue can lead to more robust aﬀective ties, as they
feature an (admittedly weak) form of reciprocity through the process of discussion.
As Gould notes, dialogue is ‘reciprocal to the degree that interlocutors are ready to
learn from others’ (2007, p. 188). Second, dialogue is conducive to motivating eﬀec-
tive political action, as individuals facing particular instances of poverty globally
3 Dialogue, as distinct from interaction, involves the use of language.
Cosmopolitan Sentiment: Politics, Charity, andGlobal Poverty
will typically have an informed perspective on potential solutions. Although indi-
viduals within these groups may have conﬂicting interests, this is a concern for any
attempt to address global poverty, with a failure to consult in determining solutions
also advantaging certain groups.
Third, processes of dialogue with individuals facing poverty globally are appro-
priate in determining what action (if any) ought to be taken by persons in more aﬄu-
ent countries. As Gould suggests, a practice of deference to those in need in deter-
mining courses of action is normatively appropriate and can lessen concerns over
action to reduce global poverty functioning as a neo-imperialist project (2007, p.
157). Finally, processes of dialogue will typically present individuals facing pov-
erty globally in a manner that highlights their capacity for agency, as their agency is
demonstrated through participation in dialogue.
Despite dialogue oﬀering a number of advantages for motivating political action
to address global poverty, it may be objected that it is not workable in practice, as
conditions of severe poverty render dialogue highly diﬃcult. Severe poverty can
serve as a barrier to participation in many activities, and may limit access to the
infrastructure necessary to facilitate processes of dialogue, such as communication
technologies. Moreover, separate from its practical feasibility, processes of dialogue
between aﬄuent individuals and individuals facing poverty globally face normative
concerns over the complex power relationships at play in these interactions.
Although conditions of severe poverty do make dialogue diﬃcult, this concern
can be easily overstated. There are two separate issues here, the eﬀects of extreme
poverty rendering individuals unable to participate in processes of dialogue, and
limited access to technologies necessary to facilitate dialogue. In the ﬁrst instance,
a picture of global poverty informed by a ‘Live–Aid’ model (Kirk 2012, p. 254)
depicting individuals facing global poverty in positions of extreme vulnerability
brought about by drought, famine, and disease, can mislead us over the (in)feasibil-
ity of dialogue. While it is implausible to expect dialogue to occur in these condi-
tions, as Collier notes, many of the globally poorest live in conditions that render
them highly vulnerable to these suﬀerings, rather than being presently aﬀected by
them (Collier 2007). When environmental or political conditions alter, these indi-
viduals are especially vulnerable. Accordingly, dialogue is possible in principle.
The second concern is more serious, as for dialogue to regularly occur in practice,
it will typically need to be facilitated by communication technologies. Access to the
relevant technologies will vary between diﬀerent cases of severe poverty worldwide,
and between the technologies in question. Sub-Saharan Africa for example, has
some of the lowest rates of Internet availability worldwide, although Internet access
is growing rapidly and mobile phone use is widespread (ITU 2015). In contrast, in
India, which contains more of the world’s very poorest individuals than Africa (UN
2016, p. 218), Internet access is more readily available (Real Time Statistics Pro-
ject 2017). The availability of communication technologies will depend in part on
whether the necessary infrastructure is available, which will in turn depend on the
quality and stability of governance at a national level, itself a signiﬁcant factor in
global poverty (Collier 2007). However, as the examples of Sub-Saharan Africa and
India show, severe poverty occurs globally in very diﬀerent contexts, and the extent
to which communication technologies are available varies.
Although actual dialogue between individuals facing poverty globally, and indi-
viduals in more aﬄuent countries will not always be possible in practice, dialogue
can still operate as a guiding ideal, with journalism or narrative art created by indi-
viduals facing poverty globally serving as a form of second order inclusion of the
voices of distant others (Cabrera 2010), approximating a process of dialogue where
actual dialogue is not presently feasible. In such cases, these mediums serve as a
temporary, and less than ideal, substitute for actual dialogue (either in person or
through communication technologies). Where dialogue is not possible for techno-
logical reasons, these forms of inclusion can help motivate support for action to cre-
ate the infrastructure necessary to facilitate future dialogue. This diﬀers from Nuss-
baum’s (2001, p. 434) and Rorty’s (1991, p. 60) accounts of sentimental education
which actively prioritise literature and narrative respectively over actual dialogue as
the ideal methods to encourage perspective-taking and engender sympathy.
Processes of dialogue between individuals in aﬄuent countries and individuals
facing poverty globally can occur either through meetings in person or via commu-
nication technologies. The former strategy is illustrated by Sibyl Schwarzenbach’s
proposal that young people from aﬄuent communities undergo a programme of
‘international civic service’, travelling to countries where severe poverty is prevalent
and assisting with everyday tasks, such as agricultural labour (2009, p. 271). This
strategy faces two signiﬁcant concerns. First, as international travel is expensive and
requires the ability to take time out from other responsibilities, this privileges more
wealthy members of aﬄuent societies. Second, these interactions foist complex
power relationships on individuals and communities facing poverty globally (Woods
2012). The ﬁrst concern is lessened where interactions are facilitated through for-
mal education or trade unions, as funding can be supplied by the organisation in
question. However, involving the more privileged members of aﬄuent societies in
processes of sentimental education may actually oﬀer an advantage, as this privi-
lege can translate into a greater ability to eﬀect change, although this may not be a
palatable thought. As Rorty notes, the suggestion that ‘we shall have to wait for the
strong to turn their piggy little eyes to the suﬀering of the weak, slowly opening up
their dried-up little hearts’ is something we typically resent (1998, p. 182).
The second concern is more signiﬁcant. However, no strategies to address global
poverty requiring action by the aﬄuent can avoid these power relationships entirely.
There is a necessary trade-oﬀ here, as deepening levels of interaction may entrench
these power relationships, but can also serve to deepen aﬀective connections to indi-
viduals facing poverty globally, and encourage recognition of these individuals as
capable agents. This highlights the need for dialogue to form part of a broader criti-
cal process of sentimental education, where attention is paid to the political causes
of global poverty, allowing individuals engaged in dialogue to contextualise these
interactions. Underlying diﬀerences in relative wealth and power between aﬄu-
ent individuals and individuals facing poverty globally cannot be altered without a
change in one, or both, groups’ concrete situations. However, attention to the politi-
cal causes of global poverty, including the agent’s own causal complicity in global
poverty (where appropriate), can help minimise power relationships deriving from
a charitable model of these interactions, featuring a blameless donor and a grateful
recipient. None of this is to suggest that such schemes are unproblematic and, where
Cosmopolitan Sentiment: Politics, Charity, andGlobal Poverty
language barriers exist, even these direct interactions will be mediated in practice
through the presence of translators. Financial cost and logistics also prevent these
schemes from directly targeting large numbers of people. However, the experiences
of participants in these schemes can be sensitively incorporated into more traditional
forms of sentimental education, such as classroom-based learning, as a means to
inform students and arouse their curiosity (Cabrera 2010, p. 252), ideally with over-
sight from the individuals featured.
Communication technologies oﬀer a means by which processes of dialogue can
include greater numbers of people. Although access to the relevant technologies can
represent a practical obstacle in some cases (as discussed), this can be overcome—
rendering future dialogue possible. In practice, such processes of dialogue are
already occurring through the Internet. The Guardian’s Katine village development
project (discussed below) oﬀers an excellent example, featuring blogs and webchats
by villagers (Collender 2014). These types of projects can involve larger numbers of
people at signiﬁcantly less cost than face-to-face interactions, can include conditions
of anonymity where appropriate, and do not place undue burdens on communities
through the hosting of volunteers.
As noted above, In addition to actual dialogue, or where dialogue is not feasi-
ble, strategies of sentimental education can employ materials authored by individu-
als facing poverty globally, depicting their own lives and circumstances. As Cabrera
observes, such materials can function as a ‘potentially signiﬁcant form of secondary
inclusion in dialogue’ (2010, p. 249). This allows individuals facing global poverty
to take an active role in strategies of sentimental education, and, where this author-
ship is made clear, encourages perceptions of these individuals as capable agents.
As people are typically well-placed to oﬀer accurate portrays of their own lives and
circumstances, these accounts can also inform eﬀective strategies to address particu-
lar instances of poverty globally.
I have argued that strategies of sentimental education ought to include actual dia-
logue where possible, and aim to approximate a dialogical process where dialogue is
not feasible. However, there are practical reasons why these processes will typically
be mediated in practice. Many face-to-face interactions will encounter language bar-
riers, requiring translators for eﬀective communication. Dialogue through communi-
cation technologies also faces language barriers, and typically requires hosting plat-
forms such as websites. Literature and journalism produced by individuals facing
poverty globally may also require translating and distributing through news agencies
or publishers in order to reach large numbers of people. When featured in formal
education, these materials will be further mediated through the presence of educa-
tors. What these examples suggest is not only that avoiding mediation is diﬃcult in
practice, but that a number of diverse processes fall under the concept of mediation,
each bringing diﬀerent potential challenges and beneﬁts.
Strategies of mediation within processes of sentimental education can be divided
into three levels. The ﬁrst level of mediation concerns creating content; for example,
authoring journalistic accounts, or producing images or video. This level ought to be
minimised where possible through the use of materials created by individuals facing
particular instances of poverty globally, or through dialogue in person or via com-
munication technologies. Although skill in operating technologies, such as video or
photographic equipment, can oﬀer practical advantages here, these can be factored
in at the second level of mediation.
The second level of mediation concerns reﬁning content, or rendering it more
accessible. This is typiﬁed by processes of editing or translating. There are practical
reasons why this step cannot always be skipped, especially where language barriers
exist. As long as interference at this stage is minimal it poses no serious concerns,
although heavily editing accounts can serve to impede dialogue. Insofar as editorial
processes involve selecting or rejecting particular images or accounts, this level of
mediation can play a more signiﬁcant role in determining how individuals facing
poverty globally are portrayed. Some role for featured individuals in the selection
of content can minimise concerns here, such as in the Save the Children campaign
(2014), discussed below, where Syrian teenagers in refugee camps took and selected
the images of themselves employed by the campaign.
The third level of mediation concerns the distribution of content by news out-
lets, NGOs, or publishers, and within formal education. There are two aspects to this
process, the scale and nature of distribution, and how content is featured. This stage
of mediation can rarely be removed if materials are to reach large numbers of peo-
ple. The opportunity oﬀered here is double-edged, as this process can both amplify
the voices of individuals facing poverty globally and radically distort them. Beyond
ability to reach large numbers of people, mediators at this stage may have signiﬁcant
expertise in successfully communicating messages. However, commercial pressures
facing news outlets and publishers, and NGOs operating with a charitable model
of what action global poverty requires of the aﬄuent, mean that this expertise may
not always be applied in a manner conducive to motivating political action, as these
organisations have other goals. An additional level of complexity occurs at this stage
in the selection of materials employed within formal education. In the case of works
of literature, for example, not only are works rejected or selected at the editorial
stage, they are then selected or rejected in determining curriculums. Finally, the
behaviour of individual educators will have a signiﬁcant eﬀect on how works are
interpreted and received. I discuss the complexities facing diﬀerent organisations at
this level of mediation below. At this stage I note that the inclusion of individu-
als facing poverty globally, in creating charters concerning how content is used by
NGOs, or in determining the content of curriculums, can help ensure they are por-
trayed in a sensitive manner.
This section has argued that although dialogue oﬀers a number of advantages for
motivating political action to address global poverty, in practice, the use of represen-
tations and the presence of mediators will remain part of sentimental education for
the foreseeable future. Therefore, dialogue ought to operate as an ideal rather than a
requirement and mediation proceed in a sensitive manner. At a general level, sensi-
tive processes of mediation will not obscure the voices of individuals facing poverty
globally, and present these individuals as capable agents. Here, Gould’s requirement
of deference to those in need (2007, p. 157) in determining appropriate courses of
Cosmopolitan Sentiment: Politics, Charity, andGlobal Poverty
action ought to be extended to allow these individuals to take the lead in how they
feature in materials employed in processes of sentimental education. However, rela-
tively few concrete conclusions regarding what sensitive mediation entails can be
drawn at this level of generality, as mediation encompasses a number of diﬀerent
processes which entail diﬀerent things at diﬀerent sites where sentimental educa-
tion occurs. The two main sites where sentimental education operates, discussed by
Rorty and Nussbaum, are journalism and formal education. Woods (2012) has also
highlighted the role of fundraising campaigns by NGOs working to address global
poverty. The international trade union movement oﬀers a further site where a dia-
logical model of sentimental education can occur (Gould 2007). In the ﬁnal section
of this article I demonstrate what the account of sentimental education developed
here entails in practice at these four sites, highlighting incipient cases of cosmo-
politan political sentimental education and oﬀering further practical recommenda-
tions. The cases discussed here serve to substantiate the theoretical account I have
outlined, demonstrating not only that the account oﬀered is both intuitively plausible
and practically feasible, but that it is a reality in action.
Section Three: Political Sentimental Education inPractice
Journalism oﬀers a unique opportunity as a means of sentimental education as it
regularly reaches large numbers of people, including those with relatively little con-
cern for the lives of distant others. However, depictions of individuals facing global
poverty encountered in journalism are typically ﬂeeting, and commercial pressures
shape journalistic content. This can lead to sensationalised depictions, and a focus
on extremes (Nussbaum 2001, p. 434). Despite this, there are some notable exam-
ples of online and print journalism cutting out the ﬁrst stage of mediation by fea-
turing content created by individuals facing poverty globally in their development
reporting, and even creating forums for transnational dialogue. Here, I will discuss
two such examples: the Guardian newspaper’s Katine project website (The Guard-
ian 2009) and the Panos Network (2017).
The Guardian’s Katine project followed the progress of one village in Uganda
that featured in a three-year development project by the Nairobi-based NGO Amref
Health Africa. The Guardian followed the progress of the project over a three-
year period, and then returned in 2015 to solicit opinions from villagers and assess
results. The project featured in the Guardian’s standard print and online journalism
but also had its own website allowing for interaction with the villagers, and fea-
turing detailed content created by the inhabitants of Katine (Collender 2014; The
Guardian 2009). Although the project itself served in part as a fund-raising exercise,
the detailed and highly speciﬁc coverage, and its interactive nature oﬀer an excel-
lent example of the kind of journalism conducive to motivating informed political
action to address poverty globally. As the reporting was highly speciﬁc to a particu-
lar location and occurred over a long time period, it oﬀered a nuanced and accurate
picture conducive to motivating eﬀective action. For example, the website included
a detailed interactive map of the village featuring interactive videos created by vil-
lagers (Collender 2014). This picture was contextualised through further reporting,
situating Katine in a broader political context. The project also served to create the
interactive ties with particular distant others recommended above, presenting these
individuals in a manner that foregrounded their capacity for agency. The villagers
were able to tell their own stories through the use of videos and photo diaries, and
in actual dialogue via webchats. Although this style of reporting has a relatively nar-
row readership at present, the success of the Katine website shows that such journal-
ism is both possible and commercially viable.
The Panos Network is a media network based in the global South that oﬀers a
platform for individuals and communities facing poverty to communicate their own
development agendas, and what action (if any) they require from others. The Net-
work also works to inform communities facing poverty concerning broader political
and economic factors involved in global poverty, and to encourage informed debate
over courses of action (Panos Network 2017). This Network, and similar organisa-
tions, can serve to combat media portrayals of individuals facing poverty as pas-
sive victims by amplifying the voices of these individuals. Where individuals fac-
ing global poverty communicate their own development agendas to the globally
aﬄuent, this presents them as active agents, and can help inform eﬀective political
solutions—especially where there is an emphasis on the political causes of global
poverty, as in the case of the Panos Network (2017). By operating in this manner,
the Panos Network also oﬀers an example of how communities aﬀected by global
poverty can exercise a greater degree of control over the third level of mediation, the
distribution of content.
The materials employed by NGOs working to address global poverty represent a
potentially fertile site for sentimental education, as NGOs are often trusted brands
with advocacy that reaches large numbers of people. However, short-term fundrais-
ing goals play a signiﬁcant role in shaping the content of NGOs promotional mate-
rials, with depictions of individuals facing global poverty often focusing on their
suﬀering and neediness in order to motivate immediate donations (Woods 2012).
Encounters with NGO fund-raising materials are also typically ﬂeeting, leading to a
greater reliance on the use of images and posing an obstacle to contextualising these
images in any depth. NGOs also bear a signiﬁcant share of the blame for public per-
ceptions of addressing global poverty as a primarily charitable enterprise, requiring
ﬁnancial donations and little else (Kirk 2012).
Whether images of suﬀering oﬀer a particularly eﬀective means of motivat-
ing short-term donations, is unclear, but, insofar as this is the case (Slovic 2007;
Jenni and Lowenstein 1997), there may be more justiﬁcation for these images being
employed here than at alternative sites. This is especially so, as both charitable dona-
tions to address immediate need and political reform to target the structural causes
of global poverty are likely to be required for the foreseeable future. However, the
use of images poses greater diﬃculties in portraying individuals facing poverty in
Cosmopolitan Sentiment: Politics, Charity, andGlobal Poverty
a manner respectful of their agency than alternative mediums, as individuals fea-
tured in images have no words, which renders dialogue impossible and can serve to
obscure a capacity for rational agency. As Woods notes, ‘we conventionally think of
language as emblematic of the distinctive human capacity for rational communica-
tion’ (Woods 2012, p. 41). To ensure that fund-raising images do not unnecessar-
ily obscure agency, images ought to be contextualised and accompanied by text or
audio allowing those depicted to speak, where possible. As this may not always be
practically feasible, allowing individuals depicted to create their own images, or to
play a role in the second stage of mediation (the editorial process) can help ensure
that appropriate images are used. Publicising this involvement can further contex-
tualise these images and increase perceptions of those involved as capable agents,
closer approximating the dialogic model outlined above. An example of this strat-
egy is the Save the Children (2014) campaign which featured teenagers in a Syrian
refugee camp creating and editing their own photo portraits (a process which the
Oxfam’s programme of Global Citizenship Education oﬀers an excellent exam-
ple of an NGO closely approximating the model of political sentimental education
I have defended. This programme operates in schools to give pupils a deeper under-
standing of global issues, and encourages children to see themselves as part of a
global community with political responsibilities to fellow ‘global citizens’ (Oxfam
2015a). Oxfam’s Global Citizenship Education aims to achieve long-term attitudi-
nal change by encouraging empathy for distant others, as in the traditional model
of sentimental education; however, it also works to highlight the causal complexity
of global poverty, and presents individuals facing poverty and other hardships in
an active role, foregrounding their agency. An example of the latter, is the degree
of emphasis placed on how individuals facing global poverty are ﬁghting for their
rights (Oxfam 2015a). The programme further emphasises the equal status and
agency of distant others by framing encounters with children in less aﬄuent coun-
tries as exchanges with ‘fellow students’ and facilitating interaction; for example,
advising teachers to ‘exchange and perform poetry on a particular local–global issue
with other schools locally, nationally and internationally’ (Oxfam 2015b, p. 3).
Formal education is perhaps the most discussed site of sentimental education and
the focus of Nussbaum’s account (2001, pp. 425–433). It has a number of signiﬁcant
advantages, as it reaches large numbers of people, occurs over a long time period,
and oﬀers an opportunity for a co-ordinated programme to be implemented. Formal
education also typically faces less commercial pressures dictating content than alter-
native sites (Nussbaum 2001, p. 434), and presents a unique opportunity for materi-
als depicting the lives of distant others to be contextualised and interrogated. How-
ever, this opportunity is double-edged as the critical focus relies on the presence of
educators, who add a signiﬁcant degree of third-level mediation to these encounters.
As this area has already been widely discussed, and Oxfam’s programme of Global
Citizenship Education, addressed above, oﬀers an example of good practice in this
area, I will keep the discussion relatively brief. Attention to the political causes of
poverty globally, alongside actual dialogue (where possible), and greater use of
accounts authored by individuals from communities aﬀected by poverty, to allow for
second-order inclusion in dialogue (Cabrera 2010), are all to be recommended here.
School twinning and pen pal schemes, taking advantage of modern communication
technologies, oﬀer strategies through which formal education can bypass the ﬁrst
stage of mediation and incorporate greater opportunities for actual dialogue between
students in more aﬄuent countries and those aﬀected by poverty globally. In order to
ensure that materials authored by individuals from communities aﬀected by poverty
globally are approached in a sensitive manner in the classroom, representatives from
these communities ought to be included at the third level of mediation—determin-
ing how these materials are featured. This strategy has been employed elsewhere to
ensure that Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders are depicted appropriately
in the Australian curriculum (Cliﬀord and Montgomery 2017; Education Services
Trade unions feature in Carol Gould’s account of transnational solidarity movements
(2014, p. 125), but otherwise remain a little discussed site for sentimental educa-
tion. Rather than distributing representations of distant others in media or art, trade
unions oﬀer an opportunity for transnational dialogue to occur in practice, bypass-
ing all three stages of mediation discussed above. Trade unions also have distinct
advantages for political sentimental education as they are underpinned by notions of
reciprocity and equality, operating to realise common goals, with individuals partici-
pating in union activity conceptualised as workers. Accordingly, transnational union
activity engages with distant others in a manner that foregrounds their capacity for
agency, providing an ideal forum for the dialogic model of sentimental education
developed here. Union activity is also inherently political, as it engages in processes
of collective bargaining and aims to reform institutions.
However, unions may struggle to reach large numbers of people, as union mem-
bership is fairly low in some relatively aﬄuent countries; for example, 24.7% of
UK workers are members of a union (UK Government 2016), and unions play a
comparatively minor political role in others, such as the United States. Unions in
more aﬄuent countries and less aﬄuent countries may also address very diﬀerent
constituencies and concerns. Unions also face challenges as a means by which to
encourage aﬀective connections to individuals facing poverty globally, as they can
struggle to include the very poorest, as many of these individuals work in the infor-
mal economy, as domestic workers, or subsistence farmers.
Addressing the latter concern is a priority if unions are to oﬀer an eﬀective means
by which to encourage aﬀective ties with individuals facing poverty globally. How-
ever, progress is already being made in this area, with unions being formed in coun-
tries with high instances of global poverty in areas of the economy that were not
previously recognised by labour unions, and employing some of the poorest indi-
viduals. These are involved in the international trade union movement, and able
Cosmopolitan Sentiment: Politics, Charity, andGlobal Poverty
to reach the attention of larger numbers of people through their own online pres-
ences and the traditional media. The Nepal Independent Domestic Workers’ Union
(NIDWU) is an excellent example of an internationally active union that oﬀers sup-
port to some of the poorer member of Nepali society and operates in an area of
the economy not previously recognised by union activity (WIEGO 2017). Further
examples are the Indian union of waste pickers, Kagad Kach Patra Kaghtakari Pan-
chayat (KKPKP 2017), which has unionised some of the poorest members of Indian
society and received a signiﬁcant amount of media attention worldwide (Carr 2014),
and Brazil’s Landless Workers Movement, which has successfully included subsist-
ence farmers and agricultural day labourers into union activity (Gould 2014, p. 125).
In order to overcome the former concern, unions need to have a broad media pres-
ence that target non-members. ITUC Africa (2017) oﬀers an excellent example of
this, with a website (2017) featuring content created by union members, including
a ‘Workers Voice’ section with a number of in-depth video and audio interviews, in
English and French, aimed at encouraging non-members to actively participate in
the speciﬁc campaigns the union is involved in.
This article has developed an account of sentimental education suitable for motivat-
ing support for political action to address global poverty. The argument proceeded
in three stages. Section one outlined the traditional model of sentimental education,
and argued that it faces two key shortcomings as a means to motivate support for
political strategies to address global poverty. First, it presents individuals facing pov-
erty globally in a manner that obscures their capacity for agency. Second, this model
leads to aﬀective connections with distant others that are highly abstract in nature.
Drawing on the arguments advanced in section one, section two developed an
alternative dialogic model of sentimental education. As dialogue may not always be
possible in practice, it was suggested dialogue ought to operate as a guiding ideal
rather than a strict requirement. I then argued that processes of dialogue will typi-
cally be mediated in practice, through the actions of third parties, such as journalists
or NGOs, and oﬀered an account of how mediation can proceed without obstructing
Section three applied the model of sentimental education developed in this arti-
cle to four sites: (i) the media, (ii) NGO practices, (iii) formal education, and (vi)
the international trade union movement, and highlighted instances of good practice.
These examples demonstrate that the account oﬀered here is not only practically fea-
sible, it is a reality in action.
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