Issues and challenges in the application of Husserlian phenomenology to the Lived Experience of Hate Crime and Its Legal Aftermath

Mcguire, Kim orcid iconORCID: 0000-0003-2713-8846 and Salter, Michael (2015) Issues and challenges in the application of Husserlian phenomenology to the Lived Experience of Hate Crime and Its Legal Aftermath. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30 (10). pp. 1782-1802. ISSN 0886-2605

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The field of hate crime research addresses the presence, sources and impact of particular types of expressions of prejudice, often perceived as particularly damaging and hurtful forms of interpersonal abuse and violence. Little, if any, credible academic research seeks to vindicate the specific racist, gendered and other vicious prejudices articulated by many perpetrators of hate crime. In turn, this raises the reflexive question of the possibilities of researchers themselves ever being able to adopt a truly "unprejudiced" approach to the presence of such damaging prejudices. Can this goal be realised without a researcher necessarily losing an experientially-grounded understanding of what these meanings, values and purposes have come to mean, and how they are themselves interpretatively re-constituted anew, including within the lived experience of victims, witnesses, police, prosecutors, judges and victim support workers?
A possible philosophically-informed approach to the dilemmas posed by this topic is offered by Husserl's phenomenology. Husserl's perpetually unfinished philosophical methodology strives, with concerted if sometimes tragic reflective rigor, to "suspend," "bracket out" and "neutralise" those core presuppositions constitutive of the research field that typically pre-judge precisely whatever demands to be questioned and explored in a radically non-prejudicial manner. This study critically explores the possibilities, reflective stages and theoretical limitations of a sympathetically reconstructed Husserlian approach to hate crime, itself understood as a would-be qualitative "science of consciousness." It argues that despite its manifest tensions, gaps, ambiguities and internal contradictions, aspects of the Husserlian philosophical approach directed towards the different levels of experienced hate crime still retain the potential to both challenge and advance our understanding of this topic. It is the "instructive" part of "instructive failure" that this article highlights.

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