Article

The 'impossible vanity': uses and abuses of empathy in qualitative inquiry

Citation

Watson C (2009) The 'impossible vanity': uses and abuses of empathy in qualitative inquiry. Qualitative Research, 9 (1), pp. 105-117. https://doi.org/10.1177/1468794108098033

Abstract
Empathy is a notoriously slippery term. While within current discourses of qualitative research, empathy is widely held to be `a good thing' (as the appropriate ethical relation between the researcher and participant) there may perhaps be more suspicion about its use as an analytical method in research practices, and in the use of rhetorical strategies in research narratives whose aim is to evoke empathy in the reader, both of which may be regarded as bordering on manipulation and thus arguably ethically ambiguous. This article sets out to examine empathy as both a tool and goal of qualitative research, surfacing and questioning some of the tacitly held assumptions that underpin the appeal to empathy and exploring these in the context of my research into institutional identities.

Keywords
empathy; ethnography; interview; narrative; Empathy; Qualitative research

Journal
Qualitative Research: Volume 9, Issue 1

StatusPublished
Publication date28/02/2009
URLhttp://hdl.handle.net/1893/1573
PublisherSage
ISSN1468-7941