Alica Rétiová (2021)
European Journal of Cultural and Political Sociology, 8(1), pp. 81-107
Abstract. This article examines meaning making among actors engaged in the ‘conflict over family’ in Slovakia. The conflict between progressive supporters of gay rights and neo-conservative advocates of the ‘traditional family’ reflects the transnational backlash against the LGBTQ+ rights recognition. Utilising a combination of pragmatic and cultural sociology, I explore how civically engaged actors from both sides make sense of their civic engagement. The analysis of qualitative interviews shows that, despite striving for different goals, all participants make sense of their work as helping. Helping discourse plays a crucial role in everyday meaning making, because it enables actors to justify their engaged work with respect to the common good in concrete terms, and it also contributes to the formation of personal attachments to the work. Civically engaged actors articulate helping discourse in narrative accounts, which elicit feelings of moral duty, satisfaction, and empowerment, thus helping them persevere in their engagement.