Successful collaboration begins with a shared language, hence the need for a glossary. This joint effort of contributors from several teams ensures, on the one hand, terminological and conceptual coherence across not only our theoretical approaches, but also the qualitative case studies and quantitative research conducted in OPPORTUNITIES. On the other hand, our glossary facilitates communication between the academic side of the project and the fieldwork conducted by NGOs, uniting our teams working from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Ghana, Italy, Mauritania, the Netherlands, Portugal, Romania and Senegal.

For more information about the Structure and Objectives of the Glossary, click here...)

The term empathy refers to “a person’s ability to mentally represent another person’s situation as well as to evaluate the relevance and desirability of that situation and its potential outcomes” (Schneider 2008, 136). A capacity for empathy can be acquired and fostered through perspective taking. Research at the nexus of narrative theory and psychology has often highlighted the cognitive value of narrative, arguing that the engagement with stories can improve perspective-taking skills (see Nünning 2014). Stories can evoke empathy for a specific purpose. Suzanne Keen (2007, 142) distinguishes three types of strategic empathy – bounded, ambassadorial, and broadcast strategic empathy – each of which is directed at a different audience. Bounded strategic empathy addresses an in-group; “stemming from experiences of mutuality,” it invites the audience “to feeling with familiar others” (Keen 2007, 142). Ambassadorial strategic empathy includes “chosen others,” seeking to “[cultivate] their empathy for the in-group, often to a specific end” (Keen 2007, 142). Broadcast strategic empathy encourages everyone “to feel with members of a group,” as it stresses “common vulnerabilities and hopes” (Keen 2007, 142). The migrant stories shared during the Cross Talk events of the OPPORTUNITIES project invite citizens and other stakeholders to understand the perspective of migrants and refugees, creating a more inclusive discourse on migration and integration. In this context, ambassadorial strategic empathy is particularly relevant.

⇢ see also: Migrant narrativeNarrativePerspective taking, Vicarious storytelling

References and further reading:

Keen, Suzanne. 2007. Empathy and the Novel. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Nünning, Vera. 2014. Reading Fictions, Changing Minds: The Cognitive Value of Fiction. Heidelberg: Universitätsverlag Winter.

Schneider, Ralf. 2008. “Emotion and Narrative.” In Routledge Encyclopedia of Narrative Theory. 136–137. Routledge: London and New York.

Category: A

Work Package: 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7