Skip to main content
    • Aa
    • Aa
  • Get access
    Check if you have access via personal or institutional login
  • Cited by 2
  • Cited by
    This article has been cited by the following publications. This list is generated based on data provided by CrossRef.

    Ryan-Krause, Patricia 2016. Short-Term Global Experiences: Reflections, Themes, and Implications. Journal of Nursing Education, Vol. 55, Issue. 7, p. 379.

    GREGORY, JAMES 2015. Engineering Compassion: The Institutional Structure of Virtue. Journal of Social Policy, Vol. 44, Issue. 02, p. 339.


Compassion in Contemporary Social Policy: Applications of Virtue Theory

  • DOI:
  • Published online: 09 November 2011

Current academic debate in the social sciences and humanities is revisiting the role of virtue in civic life. This debate is relevant to social policy. We argue that virtue is already an implicit component of policy debates, but that the virtue of compassion has not received sufficient emphasis. To support our argument we review classical and contemporary arguments regarding virtue and its linkage to the ‘good society’; articulate the necessity of compassion and its application to specific policies areas (e.g., domestic violence, welfare, emergency care); and assess how compassion intersects with other virtues in the policy environment. Policy implications are identified including: recognition of the realities of suffering, the need for sufficient administrative infrastructure and trained professionals and an often long-term commitment to work in community settings. Weighing the risks, and the overall challenges of virtuous action, our analysis suggests compassion remains a compelling, yet under-utilised, basis for constructing and implementing policies.

Linked references
Hide All

This list contains references from the content that can be linked to their source. For a full set of references and notes please see the PDF or HTML where available.

J. Barad (2007), ‘The understanding and experience of compassion: Aquinas and the Dalai Lama’, Buddhist–Christian Studies, 27: 1129.

M. N. Beaudoin and M. Taylor (2009), Responding to the Culture of Bullying and Disrespect: New Perspectives on Collaboration, Compassion, and Responsibility, Thousand Oaks, CA: Corwin.

F. Block , A. C. Korteweg and K. Woodward (2006), ‘The compassion gap in American poverty policy’, Contexts: 5: 2, 1420.

M. Button (2005), ‘‘A monkish kind of virtue’? For and against humility, Political Theory, 33: 6, 840–68.

A. Comte-Sponville (2001), A Small Treatise on the Great Virtues, New York: Holt & Co.

J. L. Gibson (2006), ‘The contributions of truth to reconciliation: lessons from South Africa’, Journal of Conflict Resolution, 50: 3, 409–32.

M. L. Hoffman (2000), Empathy and Moral Development: Implications for Caring and Justice, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

R. Hursthouse (1999), On Virtue Ethics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

S. M. Lipset (1996), American Exceptionalism: A Double-edged Sword, New York: W.W. Norton & Company.

A. MacIntyre (1981), After Virtue, Notre Dame, IN: University of Notre Dame Press.

C. C. Manz , K. S. Cameron , K. P. Manz and R. D. Marx (2008), The Virtuous Organization: Insights from Some of the World's Leading Management Thinkers, Singapore: World Scientific Publishing.

J. Norman and J. Ganesh (2006), Compassionate Conservatism: What it is – Why We Need It, London: Policy Exchange.

M. C. Nussbaum (2001), Upheavals of Thought: The Intelligence of Emotions, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

E. Porter (2006), ‘Can politics practice compassion?’, Hypatia, 21: 4, 97123.

R. Reilly (2006), ‘Compassion as justice’, Buddhist–Christian Studies, 26: 1331.

A. Sabl (2005), ‘Virtue of pluralists’, Journal of Moral Philosophy, 2: 2, 207–35.

G. R. Weaver (2006), ‘Virtue in organizations: moral identity as a foundation for moral agency’, Organization Studies, 27: 3, 341–68.

R. White (2008), ‘Rousseau and the education of compassion’, Journal of Philosophy of Education, 42: 1, 3548.

M. Whitebrook (2002), ‘Compassion as a political virtue’, Political Studies, 50: 529–44.

Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of Social Policy
  • ISSN: 0047-2794
  • EISSN: 1469-7823
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-social-policy
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *