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Landscapes of empathy: spatial scenarios, metaphors and metonymies in responses to distant suffering

Cameron, Lynne and Seu, Irene Bruna (2012). Landscapes of empathy: spatial scenarios, metaphors and metonymies in responses to distant suffering. Text & Talk, 32(3) pp. 281–305.

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This study re-analyzes focus group data on responses to human rights abuses, to investigate how participants' experiences in their local social and physical worlds influence empathy with distant suffering others.
Metaphors, metonymies, narratives, and typifying scenarios were identified in the discourse dynamics. Scenarios, metaphors, and metonymies of space and place emerge as particularly significant in the dialogic co-construction of moral reasoning. Embodied experiences, specifically encounters with people begging in the street, become emblematic of perceived threats to personal space that should feel private and secure. Systematic spatial metaphors construct a landscape of empathic understanding with an optimal distance for empathy, neither too close nor too far. Faced with distant suffering others in prompt materials, participants respond with parallel reasoning on the symbolic landscape. Implications for increasing empathic understanding of distant others are discussed.

Item Type: Journal Item
Copyright Holders: 2012 Walter De Gruyter
ISSN: 1860-7349
Project Funding Details:
Funded Project NameProject IDFunding Body
Not SetNot SetESRC (Economic and Social Research Council)
Keywords: empathy; metaphor; spatial; human rights abuses
Academic Unit/School: Faculty of Wellbeing, Education and Language Studies (WELS)
Item ID: 39832
Depositing User: Lynne Cameron
Date Deposited: 01 Apr 2014 15:34
Last Modified: 01 May 2019 17:05
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