The nonprofit organization where this ethnography took place, driven by the maxim ”lending a hand”, was forced to reduce its efforts to what it considered essential, at a time when austerity was beginning to take shape in Portugal. The analysis of the logics employed to distribute food to the neediest proved to be critical to the understanding of the consequences of apparent beneficial actions in this context. The concept of ”vulnerable” is, therefore, discussed considering how it was produced by a legal instrument and how it was reproduced by a local institution, what were the consequences for the subjects involved in this research and also for the vulnerable ethnographer. This investigation was based on several months of intense fieldwork where different ethnographic methodologies were employed in order to grasp the complexities of vulnerability and good intentions, such as participants’ observations and semi-directive interviews. Although this paper focuses on the analysis of the distribution of food support during a later visit to the fieldwork site, it is not the purpose of this paper to discuss issues of food shortage, but to contribute to the debate of care in the context of deprivation and precariousness, anchored in an ethnography where these concepts intertwine with real situations.
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License
which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited