Compassion with(out) borders : A case study of compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue in humanitarian action

University essay from Uppsala universitet/Statsvetenskapliga institutionen

Abstract: In a world where insecurities, violence and disasters seem to be increasing on a daily basis, compassion, a moral sentiment of co-suffering and motivation to alleviate it, plays an important role, especially in humanitarian action. However, compassion is not a constant feeling, and our emotions and compassion towards tragedies do not always resonate with egalitarian principles. This thesis seeks to explore the potential relationship between field experience, in humanitarian action, and compassion satisfaction and compassion fatigue. Departing from two contrasting hypotheses, grounded in theories of compassion, it investigates the factors, relating to field experience, that affect this moral sentiment, in a single case study of the Network on Humanitarian Action (NOHA). Through a quantitative survey design, combined with semi-structured interviews, the study finds that there exists no isolated correlation between field experience and compassion fatigue or satisfaction. However, the study concludes that compassion is affected by several intervening variables, relating to field experience, which can result in either compassion fatigue or satisfaction, resonating with both hypotheses. 

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