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Compassion: Conflicted Social Feeling and the Calling to Care

Wilkinson, Iain M. (2018) Compassion: Conflicted Social Feeling and the Calling to Care. In: Emotions, Everyday Life and Sociology. Routledge, pp. 56-70. ISBN 1-138-63333-X. E-ISBN 978-1-138-63333-9.

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This chapter I review the cultural and social history of compassion. I highlight the involvement of compassion in the creation and maintenance of conditions of everyday life in western modernity. I aim to equip readers with some resources to think critically about the range of moral, political and social interests that are featured in favoured accounts of compassion and its consequences. In later sections, I provide some analytical reflections on contemporary forms of ‘compassion fatigue’. Throughout the chapter I emphasise that compassion courts controversy, and I further underline the potential for this to marshal critical debate towards the institutional configuration and moral character of society. I hold that compassion is a ‘social emotion’ that holds the potential to alert us to the quality of our moral attachments to others and calls on us to reflect on how we bear a moral responsibility to relate people with care. The study of compassion involves us in far more than a critical commitment to expose its potential to operate in the service of various political and social ideologies, for the issues at stake here concern the potential for individuals to enact humane forms of society. I argue that by studying compassion we are made to attend to how individuals are more or less equipped with the moral motivation to care for one another.

Item Type: Book section
Uncontrolled keywords: Compassion, Compassion Fatigue, Sociology of Emotions
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Faculties > Social Sciences > School of Social Policy Sociology and Social Research > Sociology
Depositing User: Iain Wilkinson
Date Deposited: 17 Jul 2018 09:04 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 20:44 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Wilkinson, Iain M.:
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