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

Deanna Burgess, Ashley Diaz, Ashley Patterson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


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.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalJournal for Multicultural Education
StateAccepted/In press - 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Cultural Studies
  • Education
  • Linguistics and Language


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