Cultivating Empathy and Community for Adults with Disabilities: Germany’s “Die Lebensgemeinschaft e. V.” of Sassen and Richthof

Nicolas Gedigk


Sassen, a German rural community, cares for mentally disabled adults with the purpose of providing them with the empathy, freedom, and community that other institutions often fail to provide. Through participant-observation and interviews, this study examines the ways in which this isolated community does not deny disabled individuals of their humanity. Sassen has full-time, live-in caretakers that care for their own surrogate family of disabled residents, creating an empathetic, and personal community. Through its isolation from society and its live-in staff, Sassen goes beyond ensuring their residents’ survival and provides them with the freedom and empathy to engage in romantic relationships, belong to a family, and have a sense of purpose through their jobs that help sustain their community – to live and not just survive.


disability; kinship; community care; Sassen

Full Text:




  • There are currently no refbacks.

The JUE is a peer-reviewed online journal that publishes original ethnographic research by undergraduates working in a variety of disciplines. Submissions are welcomed. Contact the Editor, Karen McGarry.

ISSN 2369-8721