Narrare una catastrofe: la “costruzione sociale dell’empatia” attraverso la stampa quotidiana

Carmencita Serino, Amelia Manuti, Filomena Milena Marzano, Massimo Conticchio


Reporting a catastrophe:  the “social construction of empathy”  in the context of daily press

When a collective disaster occurs, Mass Media are called into play: their action is intended not only to inform, but also to transmit, amplify, trasform emotional reactions, to convey meanings and to spread beliefs, evaluations and Social Representations. While comparing with such dramatic events, people are induced to turn to mass media, seeking for support in interpreting and coping with them. In this view, social communication can play a fundamental role in moderating negative feelings, restoring self-efficacy, developing sense of identity, empathy and pro-social behaviours. The present paper focuses on these topics by considering how an important Italian newspaper (La Repubblica) has being dealing with three different natural calamities which occured in 2004-2005 (Tsunami, the Katrina Hurricane and the Earthquake in Pakistan). To this aim, all articles published in the newspaper during the 30 days after each event have been analysed by both quantitative and qualitative methods. Our results are discussed by focusing on the process of social construction of Empathy displayed by media and on the remarkable differences among the three cases.


Media, empathy, social representations

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