Social Empathy

The Art of Understanding Others

Elizabeth A. Segal

Columbia University Press

Social Empathy

Google Preview

Pub Date: October 2018

ISBN: 9780231184809

256 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $35.00£27.00

Pub Date: October 2018

ISBN: 9780231545686

256 Pages

Format: E-book

List Price: $34.99£27.00

Social Empathy

The Art of Understanding Others

Elizabeth A. Segal

Columbia University Press

Our ability to understand others and help others understand us is essential to our individual and collective well-being. Yet there are many barriers that keep us from walking in the shoes of others: fear, skepticism, and power structures that separate us from those outside our narrow groups. To progress in a multicultural world and ensure our common good, we need to overcome these obstacles. Our best hope can be found in the skill of empathy.

In Social Empathy, Elizabeth A. Segal explains how we can develop our ability to understand one another and have compassion toward different social groups. When we are socially empathic, we not only imagine what it is like to be another person, but we consider their social, economic, and political circumstances and what shaped them. Segal explains the evolutionary and learned components of interpersonal and social empathy, including neurobiological factors and the role of social structures. Ultimately, empathy is not only a part of interpersonal relations: it is fundamental to interactions between different social groups and can be a way to bridge diverse people and communities. A clear and useful explanation of an often misunderstood concept, Social Empathy brings together sociology, psychology, social work, and cognitive neuroscience to illustrate how to become better advocates for justice.
This book brings together important ideas about how we relate to one another and make decisions about the society we live in. Using social empathy to frame community decision making such as social policies helps us understand our citizenship responsibilities. Especially in times of extreme political divisiveness, we need to be reminded of the consequences of a lack of social empathy—in our individual relationships, communities, and national discourse. Anyone who is asking difficult questions about divisiveness in their own community will find Segal’s ideas useful in reflecting on questions of why and what next. Sarah Garlington, Ohio University
Social Empathy expands on what we know about interpersonal empathy and strikes right at the heart of today’s partisan conflicts. In readable, humane, and informative prose, this book explains how we can overcome tribal instincts and forge the supportive, meaningful connections we need in order to thrive in today’s global environment. Caroline Wellbery, Georgetown University School of Medicine
Elizabeth Segal’s groundbreaking work on social empathy explains how we can expand our capacity to appreciate the social contexts and lived experiences of diverse others. Given growing diversity and urbanization in countries worldwide, this book could not be more timely or urgent for strengthening public problem-solving and enhancing our collective wellbeing. William M. Snyder, coauthor of Cultivating Communities of Practice
In this stellar book, Elizabeth Segal offers a cross disciplinary picture of social empathy. Like the periodic table, she distills empathy to its essential elements, helping readers understand the essence of empathic thinking and living. This book is a must read for all concerned about how to educate ourselves and the next generation to live an empathic life. Miriam Raider-Roth, University of Cincinnati
Segal summarizes her ten-plus years of research into social work, psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and sociology to present a new study of empathy, raising the fundamental helping skill of imagining oneself in another's place, to a higher level. . . . [Social Empathy] ought to be required reading for the pathologically narcissistic POTUS and all his lackeys. Library Journal
This important book deserves to be taken seriously by anybody interested in social welfare. Constantine Sandis, Times Higher Education
Preface
1. What Is Empathy?
2. Why Do We Need Empathy?
3, If It’s So Important, Why Is Empathy So Hard?
4. Are Power and Politics Barriers to Empathy?
5. What If Stress, Depression, and Other Health Factors Block Empathy?
6. Where Is Religion in Empathy?
7. Can We Have Empathy with Technology?
8. Social Empathy—Making the World a Better Place
Epilogue: Teaching Social Empathy
Notes
Index

About the Author

Elizabeth A. Segal is a professor in the School of Social Work at Arizona State University. She is the author of Social Welfare Policy and Social Programs: A Values Perspective, fourth edition (2016) and coauthor of Assessing Empathy (Columbia, 2017).