Literary journalism and social justice

Robert Alexander* (Editor), Willa McDonald (Editor)

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Book/ReportEdited Book/Anthologypeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Today, as in the past, literary journalists around the world use their craft to address the unfair distribution of wealth, rights, opportunities, and power. In recent years, they have been particularly drawn to respond to the impacts of capitalism, globalization, and climate change. Differing access to economic opportunity is creating wealth inequalities both within communities and between nations. Disparities in access to basic services, including housing, sanitation and medical care, are disproportionately affecting women, children, migrants, ethnic and religious minorities, indigenous peoples and people with disabilities. Social and cultural inequalities influence access to education, information, and participation in political, cultural and social processes. Forcible displacement has seen 70 million people driven from their homes, without access to institutional or state-based social justice remedies, and this number is increasing. Non-human species and ecosystems are threatened by human activities driving habitat loss, the introduction of exotic species and climate change. All of these instances of social injustice are areas of concern for literary journalists. Social Justice and Literary Journalism is an edited collection of scholarly chapters which seeks for the first time to analyse the use of literary journalism to address such social injustice in its many guises: distributive, procedural, deliberative, restorative, epistemic, environmental/ecological, and retributive. It takes as its central task an examination of the prominent place which a commitment to social justice and equity has occupied in the global history of literary journalism, a form that combines rigorous reporting with literary storytelling techniques. As this volume will demonstrate--using case studies ranging from the literary journalism of Dalit activist Meena Kandasamy, to the environmental literary journalism of Canada’s Joan Baxter, Douglas Haynes’s recent account of life in a contemporary Managua shantytown, the reports of Slovenian journalist Boštjan Videmšek, and Behrouz Boochani’s award-winning narrative exposing conditions experienced by refugees to Australia in compulsory detention on Manus Island-- literary journalists intentionally use their craft to address inequality and its consequences. In the process, this volume asks whether literary journalism is a uniquely effective vehicle not only for delivering the facts of the lives of those marginalized because of class, race, gender, sexuality, ability or even species, but of doing so in a way which provides readers with the possibility of an empathic engagement with those lives, leading to the opportunity to change attitudes and realities.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationCham, Switzerland
PublisherPalgrave Macmillan
Number of pages326
ISBN (Electronic)9783030894207
ISBN (Print)9783030894191
Publication statusPublished - 2022


  • literary journalism
  • narrative journalism
  • social justice
  • long-form
  • witnessing
  • testimonial justice
  • environmental journalism
  • reportage
  • epistemic justice


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