Against comfort: Political implications of evading discomfort

Ditte Marie Munch-Jurisic*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articlepeer-review


We typically think of emotional states as highly individualised and subjective. But visceral gut feelings like discomfort can be better understood as collective and public, when they reflect implicit biases that an individual has internalised. Most of us evade discomfort in favour 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 favouritism 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.

Original languageEnglish
JournalGlobal Discourse: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Current Affairs and Applied Contemporary Thought
Issue number2-3
Pages (from-to)277-297
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Carlsberg Foundation under grant no. CF16-0580.


  • Affect
  • Emotional synchrony
  • Emotions
  • Implicit bias
  • Structural discrimination

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