Accomplishing Empathy: An Ethnography of a Children’s Weight Loss Camp

Abstract

This case study explores empathy in ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with adolescents. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews conducted at a children’s weight-loss camp, I describe interactions when empathy was successfully accomplished and occasions when empathy failed to occur. I find that personal attributes, including the age of the researcher, and cumulative interactional experiences influence whether empathy is accomplished during fieldwork. This case demonstrates how qualitative researchers who study youth must take into account variance in empathy during fieldwork when presenting their findings.

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