Mark Bracher deposited Compassion-Cultivating Pedagogy: Advancing Social Justice by Improving Social Cognition through Literary Study in the group TC Marxism, Literature, and Society on MLA Commons 3 years, 3 months ago
Previous studies suggest that narrative fiction promotes social justice by increasing empathy, but critics have argued that the partiality of empathy severely limits its effectiveness as an engine of social justice, and that what needs to be developed is universal compassion rather than empathy. We created Compassion-Cultivating Pedagogy (CCP) to target the development of two social-cognition capabilities that entail compassion: (1) recognition of self-other overlap and (2) cognizance of the situational, uncontrollable causes of bad character, bad behavior, and bad life-outcomes. Employing a pre/post within- and between-subjects design, we found that students in the CCP classes, but not students in conventionally taught classes, improved in these two areas of social cognition and also exhibited increased preference for compassionate social policies for stigmatized groups. This finding suggests that pedagogy can play a significant role in literature’s contribution to social justice, and that further efforts to develop and test pedagogies for improving social cognition are warranted.