Embracing Others With “Sympathetic Understanding” And “Affectionate Interpretation:” Creating A Relational Care-Centered Public Administration

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© 2019, © 2019 Public Administration Theory Network. This paper’s purpose is to share theoretical and practical guidance with public administration scholars, teachers, and practitioners interested in fostering empathy and compassion in the public arena. This paper proposes that Jane Addams’s interchangeable concepts of sympathetic understanding and affectionate interpretation, along with her care-centered approach to administration, offer a fruitful place to begin this work. It is this paper’s contention that Addams’s theory and practice of empathy provide significant insight into the task of constructing a more relational public administration. This paper will first travel back to Addams’s Chicago to examine her ideas on empathy and how they came to inform her care-centered, relational approach to leading and administering, and then we will make the return trip to the present to argue for a care-centered relational public administration that embraces others with “affectionate interpretation.”.