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

    Cameron, L. 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. ISSN 1860-7330.

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    This study re-analyses 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: Article
    Additional Information: The final publication is available at
    Keyword(s) / Subject(s): empathy, metaphor, spatial, human rights abuses
    School: Birkbeck Faculties and Schools > Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences > School of Social Sciences
    Research Centres and Institutes: Mapping Maternal Subjectivities, Identities and Ethics (MAMSIE), Gender and Sexuality, Birkbeck (BiGS), Social Research, Birkbeck Institute for (BISR)
    Depositing User: Bruna Seu
    Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2013 11:16
    Last Modified: 02 Aug 2023 17:02


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