Gaja Maestri
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Pierre Monforte
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Victims and agents
The representation of refugees among British volunteers active in the refugee support sector
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Since the peak of the so-called refugee ‘crisis’ in 2015, individuals across Europe have mobilised to show compassion and solidarity towards refugees and migrants. This chapter aims to analyse how individuals who started volunteering in this context make sense of their engagement. More precisely, we ask how volunteers represent the beneficiaries of their collective actions, in order to explore the moral boundaries underpinning different representations of ‘deservedness’. In the course of their compassionate collective actions, volunteers construct and adjust their representations and moral judgements about who the refugees are and why they ‘deserve’ support. This chapter focuses on how images of refugees as ‘vulnerable’ and passive ‘victims’ coexist with representations underlining their agency, resilience and resourcefulness. Furthermore, we consider how these representations are distributed across different charities and support groups.

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