Empathy for Earth and Farmland: A Bland Ranking of Attentions

Giorgio Osti*, Gabriella Gilli, Chiara Lovati

*Corresponding author

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The environmental crisis, so looming and diverse (climate change, pollution, loss of biodiversity), requires the social sciences to make every effort to identify attitudes and actions suitable for mitigating it. Empathy towards plants, animals and ecosystems appears to be a powerful category both analytically and pragmatically. The paper focuses on a great mediator between society and environment: the ‘agrosilvopastoral’ sector, wondering how much empathy plays a role in this mediation. For reaching this goal, first, a definition of empathy is delineated; then thanks to a typology of the position and analytical levels of the social sciences, different pieces of literature on earth and farmland empathy are framed; and finally, an exemplifying secondary analysis of over 60 abstracts collected from a conference on earth and farmland empathy is carried out. The literature and content analyses show two results: some scholars and practitioners do not recognise a role of mediator with ecosystems to agrosilvopastoral sector, some others adopt a bland ranking of empathy towards the human and non-human figures of agro systems. Because of their relationship with animals, shepherds are seen among the most important mediators between humans and non-humans, despite their relative isolation from social life.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)175-195
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2023


  • empathy, farmland, earth, farmers, shepherds, animals


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