Feeling their stories: contemplating empathy, insider/outsider positionings, and enriching qualitative research

Gair, Susan (2012) Feeling their stories: contemplating empathy, insider/outsider positionings, and enriching qualitative research. Qualitative Health Research, 22 (1). pp. 134-143.

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Abstract

Empathy is a very familiar term in the helping and caring literature. What appears to link empathy in the helping literature to the aims and goals of qualitative research and, in particular, to the argument underpinning insider/outsider debates, is a discernible common quest. That quest is to be able to hear, feel, understand, and value the stories of others and to convey that felt empathy and understanding back to the client/storyteller/participant. When relevant, the quest also includes conveying that felt understanding to a broader audience. In this article, I highlight commonalities between empathy in professional practice and empathy in qualitative research processes, including the shared experiences and understanding informing research relationships that are discussed as "insider/outsider" status. I review, discuss, and critique relevant literature, and I conclude by suggesting that cultivating empathy in qualitative research training could contribute to facilitating more enriched, insightful research encounters.

Item ID: 19806
Item Type: Article (Research - C1)
ISSN: 1552-7557
Keywords: communication; empathy; research, qualitative; teaching/learning strategies
Date Deposited: 10 Apr 2012 06:05
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1607 Social Work > 160701 Clinical Social Work Practice @ 100%
SEO Codes: 92 HEALTH > 9202 Health and Support Services > 920201 Allied Health Therapies (excl. Mental Health Services) @ 100%
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