The Politics of Structural Injustice
Maeve McKeown in conversation with Ashok Kumar
N.B. This is an in-person event at Conway Hall, London!
What is structural injustice, and who ultimately bears responsibility for it?
In this event to coincide with the publication of her new book, With Power Comes Responsibility: The Politics of Structural Injustice, political theorist Maeve McKeown will explore how power and responsibility truly function in today’s world. Drawing on case studies from sweatshops to climate change, McKeown will identify three types of structural injustice: the pure and unintended accumulation of disparate activities; the avoidable injustice that could be ameliorated by the powerful but nevertheless continues; the deliberate perpetuation of structural processes that benefit powerful political and economic agents. In each of these, the role of power is different which changes the allocation of responsibility.
From this understanding, McKeown will help us shape a deeper, more sophisticated idea of how structural injustice operates and what we as individuals can do about it. What is the political responsibility of ordinary individuals? How can ordinary individuals with very little power pressure morally responsible, powerful agents to address structural injustice? Do we have the same responsibility for historical injustice as we do for that which we see in today’s world? This event aims for nothing less than a fundamental reassessment of the relationship between power, ordinary people, and responsibility for structural injustice.
Pub: 9pm onwards
Maeve McKeown is an Assistant Professor of Political Theory at the University of Groningen and has previously worked at Cambridge, Oxford and Frankfurt. She is the author of numerous journal articles and book chapters, the editor of Stephen Jeffreys’ Playwriting: Structure, Character, How and What to Write (2019), shortlisted for the Theatre Book Prize 2020, and is formerly co-editor of New Left Project. Her new book, With Power Comes Responsibility: The Politics of Structural Injustice, is published by Bloomsbury.
Ashok Kumar is a Senior Lecturer of Political Economy at Birkbeck University, London. He has published widely on a number of issues including urban theory, development, capitalist crisis, workers’ movements, global supply chains and identity. His most recent book Monopsony Capitalism: Power and Production in the Twilight of the Sweatshop Age (Cambridge University Press) was the winner of the American Sociological Association's 2021 Paul Sweezy Outstanding Book Prize and the 2022 Immanuel Wallerstein Memorial Book Award. He is currently a member of the editorial collective of the journal Historical Materialism.