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From titular to radical empathy: conceptualizing empathy through the lens of youth organizing

Deanna Burgess (Department of Counseling and Special Education, DePaul University, Chicago, Illinois, USA)
Ashley Diaz (College of Education, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)
Ashley Patterson (College of Education, The Pennsylvania State University, University Park, Pennsylvania, USA)

Journal for Multicultural Education

ISSN: 2053-535X

Article publication date: 28 November 2022

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Abstract

Purpose

This study aims to explore how youth express empathy as an aspect of social action. Social empathy was investigated among adolescents participating in a youth organizing initiative.

Design/methodology/approach

This study used elements of critical discourse analysis to examine participant expression of social empathy through examination of participant journal entries. The social empathy model was used as a conceptual framework to guide the analysis and interpretation of themes.

Findings

Two core themes emerged from the analysis: characterization of empathy and empathy as a desired trait. Overall, results indicate that social empathy may be expressed differentially according to one’s development of empathy and critical consciousness. Thus, this study classifies dimensions of empathetic expression as existing across a continuum.

Originality/value

Before youth can engage in meaningful social action, they must first understand an issue from differing social and affective perspectives, defined as social empathy. While existing research highlights the role of social empathy in social action initiatives, there are no known studies that investigate the performative expressions of social empathy among youth organizing participants. Building from these results, this study offers a continuum that elucidates the multidimensionality of empathy expression among youth engaged in a social action initiative.

Keywords

Citation

Burgess, D., Diaz, A. and Patterson, A. (2022), "From titular to radical empathy: conceptualizing empathy through the lens of youth organizing", Journal for Multicultural Education, Vol. ahead-of-print No. ahead-of-print. https://doi.org/10.1108/JME-01-2022-0014

Publisher

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Emerald Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2022, Emerald Publishing Limited

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