Against comfort: Political implications of evading discomfort

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review

We typically think of emotional states as highly individualized, personal, and subjective. But visceral gut-feelings like discomfort can be better understood as collective, public, and political when they are a reflection of implicit biases that an individual has internalized. Most of us evade discomfort in favor of comfort, often unconsciously. This inclination, innocent in most cases, also has social and political consequences. Research has established that it is easier to interact with people who resemble us and that such in-group favoritism contributes to subtle forms of discrimination. If we want a more equal and unbiased society, we have a duty to expose ourselves to more discomfort. Living up to this duty requires an enhanced emotional vocabulary that captures the political dimensions of physiological affect. I argue that a better understanding of what I call “interaction discomfort” can mitigate subtle forms of discrimination (142 words).
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Discourse: An interdisciplinary journal of current affairs
Issue number2-3
Pages (from-to)277-297
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 1 May 2020
Externally publishedYes

ID: 279128871