Research on Finnish Society 10(1):2017

Personal and social shame among the recipients of charity food aid in Finland

Tuomo Laihiala, Johanna Kallio & Maria Ohisalo
University of Eastern Finland, University of Turku

In this article, we focus on shame among the recipients of charity food aid in Finland. We are interested in whether shame is explained by sociodemographic factors, frequent use of food aid or the persons for whom the charity food is obtained. Our analysis is based on survey data collected in 2012–2013 (N = 3474). Shame is measured using two indicators that are related to social and personal shame. Descriptive statistics and binary logistic regression are utilised. Nearly three of four respondents do not perceive receiving food aid as humiliating or socially harmful. Feelings of social shame are more common when charity food aid is needed to support an entire family rather than an individual recipient, and feelings of personal shame are more common when there are two or more children in the family. The highly educated, the elderly and those with the most insucient perceived incomes are more socially and personally ashamed than others are. Women receiving charity food aid consider it more socially shameful than men do.

Keywords: Charity food aid, the disadvantaged, food banks, poverty, shame, stigma

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