Max Chewinski (he/him)

Nominated by member scholarly associations of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Sciences, the 2022 Congress Graduate Merit Awards recognize exceptional graduate students who will be presenting their work at the Congress of the Humanities and Social Sciences. 

Photo of Max Chewinski, CGMA recipient


Tell us about yourself.

I am a PhD Candidate in the Department of Sociology at the University of British Columbia. My research focuses on environmental politics to make sense of how people engage with environmental issues, the challenges they face, and the inequities that structure their experiences. 

At which conference(s) will you be presenting and/or attending? 

I will be attending the Canadian Sociological Association’s (CSA) Annual Conference and the session I will be presenting at is organized through the CSA’s Environmental Sociology Research Cluster. 

What is the title of your Congress 2022 presentation?  

The Cultural Roots of Procedural Injustice 

How would you describe the research you will be presenting at Congress 2022?

Procedural justice refers to the presence or absence of meaningful opportunities for the public to influence decision-making. My research examines two cultural processes that prevent rural residents from meaningfully participating in public consultations following the 2014 Mount Polley disaster: strategies of agenda denial and a concept I term manufactured confusion. The first describes the experience that the most salient questions and concerns brought forward by residents were frequently ignored, denied, or minimized. The second describes the prevailing belief that consultations relied on a large amount of highly technical information without adequate resources for its interpretation or time for discussion. Together, both present barriers to procedural justice.  

How does the research you will be presenting connect with the Congress 2022 theme, Transitions

My research is related to the larger Congress theme because it focuses on how dramatic events – whether pandemics or technological disasters – shape how people respond to and recover from disruptions. Although my research is rooted in environmental issues, the barriers I identify to meaningful participation can be explored in a variety of other settings that involve public engagement with science.   

What is your favourite part of the Congress experience? 

My favourite part is the sense of community that Congress encourages. I attend CSA meetings every year and look forward to seeing colleagues and hearing about their exciting new research.