Empathy in police-community interaction

We’ve just published a new academic article about talk in a public meeting after a police shooting in Portland, Oregon, in which we examine how metaphors interact with empathy:

Ritchie, D. & L. Cameron (2014) Open hearts or smoke and mirrors: Metaphorical framing and frame conflicts in a public meeting. Metaphor & Symbol, 29, 204–223.

You can read it here.  The basic message is that we need to use empathic understanding of our audiences in planning our communications.

Here’s the outline:

The concept of framing has been widely used to help understand how aspects of messages can shape people’s expectations and consequently influence the outcomes of communicative interactions. In this study we examine transcripts of a contentious and ultimately unsuccessful public meeting between police officials and members of the African American community following the fatal shooting of a young African American woman by police officers. We show how contradictory framing between public officials and members of the community as well as within each group may have contributed to unintended and asymmetrical ironies, and ultimately to the failure of the meeting to achieve the objectives of either group. We suggest steps that might lead to better outcomes in similar situations in the future.



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