Challenging scapegoating mechanisms

Mimetic desire and self-directed groupwork

Authored by: Stan Houston , Stephen Coulter

The Routledge Handbook of Critical Social Work

Print publication date:  January  2019
Online publication date:  January  2019

Print ISBN: 9781138578432
eBook ISBN: 9781351264402
Adobe ISBN:


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Karl Marx and Frederick Engels (1848/2012: 1) famously said that ‘the history of all hitherto society is the history of class struggles’. While acknowledging the ubiquity of class antagonisms in past times, one might also surmise that, over time, human relations within the cultural sphere have been indubitably marred by the marginalization of certain groups in society: scapegoating them in ways that shock more enlightened, human sensibilities. Such misanthropic practices cause us to reflect on the reality that human (un)consciousness, while paradoxically enabling great feats of altruistic, self-sacrifice, is also structured ‘like a lynching’ (Sollers, 1986: 34). Tellingly, from the standpoint of the scapegoated, ‘history is what hurts’, as Frederic Jameson (1983: 25) hauntingly stated.

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