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Epistemic Injustice as Affective Experience: Empirical Research on Volunteering and Civic Involvement in Quebec

Wed, July 13, 2:30 to 4:00pm, TBA


The social turbulence of the recent years has revealed that, despite the progress over the past decades, deeply rooted injustice continues to persist in social interactions between people from different profiles and backgrounds. Social movements have formed to denounce situations of inequity, such as the MeToo and Black Lives Matter uprisings. While community-based organizations are often associated with these struggles for greater equity and better inclusion of all, we may wonder to what extent these organizations themselves reproduce forms of injustice in their participatory processes.
This research deals with a subtle form of injustice that is very present in our social interactions: epistemic injustice. It corresponds to moments when a person is prevented from enjoying their knowledge, skills, and experiences, at least to some extent, mainly because of the biases and prejudices conveyed about their assigned or chosen social groups. For example, epistemic injustice takes place whenever we do not take seriously the testimony of victims of sexual assault, presume that someone with a mental health problem is incoherent, or fail to assist a person who appears to be homeless.
As the first empirical study on this theme, the objective is to grasp the concrete effects of epistemic injustice on the affective and identity constitution of individuals, as well as their ability to contribute to their community-based organization. By interviewing directly volunteers and involved citizens who consider themselves to be part of minority groups, we can better understand how organizations can avoid repeating these injustices in the recruiting, participation, and engagement of their volunteers and members. The results show how situations of injustice derive from the meanings and affect they associate with their daily implications as volunteers or citizens.