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The Anatomy of Indifference & Care: A Psychosocial Study Using Micro-Phenomenology

Talk by Deanne Bell, University of East London

2018.06.18 | Anne-Mette Pedersen

Date Tue 18 Sep
Time 11:00 13:00
Location IMC Meeting Room, Jens Chr. Skous Vej 4, Building 1483-312


Seventy years ago forty-eight countries adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR). The UDHR marked an international commitment to end discrimination against people based on their race and ethnicity, practices that have produced social suffering globally. Despite this intention, human rights failures persist. For example, in 2015 in the UK, an evaluation of equality and human rights by 175 civil society organizations found that ethnic minorities’ experiences of health, education, income, employment, justice and safety lag behind white UK citizens and evidence social suffering as a result.

Why and how do we remain indifferent to others’ pain despite our stated intention to do otherwise?

The Anatomy of Indifference & Care research project will explore participant’s relationship to the suffering caused by social inequalities. It has a twofold purpose. It seeks to answer the question, what constitutes the psychosocial experience of indifference to social suffering? Since it is also designed to help us understand how prosocial cultures can be created it will ask, how do people experience care toward historically marginalized others?

Based on previous research I conducted on bystanding social injustice I expect that research participants may find it challenging to engage in dialogue about indifference since it can be considered an unwelcome aspect of ourselves. This project will address this possibility and attempt to overcome it by using micro-phenomenology designed to facilitate exploration and description of subjective experience that is difficult to describe. By using micro-phenomenology this project holds the potential of revealing social attitudes that we are unaware of, that are shrouded in silence but which nevertheless contribute to maintaining inequalities. This project may also generate insights into how socially just and equal societies may be built.    

About the speaker:

Deanne Bell, Senior Lecturer, University of Eastern London