‘Friends that last a lifetime’: The Importance of Emotions amongst Volunteers Working with Refugees in Calais

Mark Doidge, Elisa Sandri

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


The European ‘refugee crisis’ has generated a broad movement of volunteers offering their time and skills to support refugees across the continent, in the absence of nation states. This article focuses on volunteers who helped in the informal refugee camp in Calais called the ‘Jungle’. It looks at the importance of emotions as a motivating factor for taking on responsibilities that are usually carried out by humanitarian aid organizations. We argue that empathy is not only the initial motivator for action, but it also sustains the voluntary activity as volunteers make sense of their emotions through working in the camp. This type of volunteering has also created new spaces for sociability and community, as volunteers have formed strong emotional and relational bonds with each other and with the refugees. Finally, this article contributes to the growing body of literature that aims at repositioning emotions within the social sciences research to argue that they are an important analytical tool to understand social life and fieldwork.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)463-480
JournalBritish Journal of Sociology
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2018

Bibliographical note

This is the peer reviewed version of the following article: Doidge, M. and Sandri, E. (2018), ‘Friends that last a lifetime’: the importance of emotions amongst volunteers working with refugees in Calais. The British Journal of Sociology, which has been published in final form at https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/abs/10.1111/1468-4446.12484. This article may be used for non-commercial purposes in accordance with Wiley Terms and Conditions for Use of Self-Archived Versions.

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