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Session Overview
RN11_02b_P: Emotions, Civic Action and Social Movements II
Wednesday, 30/Aug/2017:
4:00pm - 5:30pm

Session Chair: Maja Sawicka, University of Warsaw
Location: PB.2.5
PANTEION University of Social & Political Sciences 136 Syggrou Avenue 17671 Athens, Greece Building: B, Level: 2.

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Affective and Moral Economies of mental health professionals and volunteers in the refugee regime in Greece

GEORGIOS KESISOGLOU, Philia Issari, Stavroula Laou, Antigoni Apostolopoulou

National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

This presentation aims to discuss the affective and value practices of professionals and volunteers working with refugees in Greece through the concepts of affective and moral economy. It draws on an ongoing participatory action-research project on the needs and best-practices’ proposals of people involved in the refugee regime, i.e. mental health professionals (psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, nurses), cultural mediators, rescue workers and volunteers. In their everyday work with the refugees in the ad-hoc shelter and hospitality system of the Greek refugee regime, both professionals and volunteers are affected in various ways, while being in position to take up normative moral judgements and to uphold value practices vis-a-vis the present living conditions and the future of the refugees. Coming from a social psychological and counselling milieu, we have attested in pilot interviews that mental health professionals and volunteers register their need for best practices of supervision and psychosocial support again and again, which forms the core of the action-research groups of our study. Thus, this presentation aims to discuss the initial findings on the embodied experiences and affective/value practices elicited during the interaction of the action-research groups, both by the participants and the facilitators/researchers. Such embodied, affective, moral experiences in their work field are crucial for the professional formation and subjective constitution of the participants, in the context of a major social, economic crisis for Greece.

Paradoxes of Compassion

Greta Wagner

Goethe-University Frankfurt, Germany

Compassion is a basic human emotion that positions people in relations with ‘sufferers’ and by this forms social bonds. But how can these social bonds be understood sociologically? Can compassion foster solidarity and reciprocity or is compassion rather an affective part of social dominance and are these bonds per se unequal and paternalistic ones?

In the summer of 2015 many refugees arrived in Germany - at times 13 000 people a day. The acts of hospitality displayed by huge numbers of individuals took many by surprise: Thousands started to engage in small support initiatives to help refugees to learn German, find apartments and to communicate with administrations. Many of them had not been engaged in any forms of social advocacy before. For 70 % of the volunteers who started to engage in 2015 „emotional experiences“ were important for their motivation (Karakayali/Kleist 2016). It seems that their volunteer work was in large parts based on feelings of compassion.

My research question ist: Which pitfalls does an engagement based on compassion entail? Based on qualitative interviews with volunteers in refugee support initiatives in the German countryside, my talk is going to address paradoxes of compassion. I conceptualize compassion as a central motivator for engagment and care which at the same time is a source for paternalistic attitudes by which refugees are not recognized as competent actors.

Emotional labour in mobile contexts: Supporting solidarity actors’ resilience

Anitta Kynsilehto

University of Tampere, Finland

Undocumented mobilities are perceived as a problem by established society yet many struggle to get any access to a regularized status. Many individuals, neighbourhood groups, networks and associations engage with these mobile people in order to provide everyday assistance, information, and human contacts, meanwhile seeking to keep the relation as egalitarian as possible. I call these people ‘solidarity actors.’ Often the commitment transcends the boundaries of organizational limits, and many work in a voluntary, sometimes ad hoc manner, as has been manifested across Europe in 2015 and onwards, even if this type of engagement is nothing new. Solidarity action is indispensable and personally rewarding, but simultaneously very tiresome and emotionally consuming due to the global political context that does not promise for an end to an increasing need for engagement. Some organisations have begun to pay attention to the well-being of their employees and voluntary workers in order to avoid burn-out and drop-out. However, this is not the case for all organisations, and for more informal groups and engaged individuals this type of support depends on resources one may have via other relational networks, and on the ways in which such issues are recognized as pertinent.

Drawing on multi-sited ethnographic research in several European countries and around the Mediterranean Sea, and the author’s involvement in various networks, this paper discusses the possibilities for supporting solidarity actors’ resilience in contexts that are increasingly hostile to such engagement.

Emotions and solidarity: the emancipative value of shame

Lorenzo Bruni

University of Perugia, Italy

The aim of this paper is to mark an original sociological way of access to the study of shame. The main theoretical hipotesis of this work is about the distinction between two forms of shame: the first is called "vergogna del me" (Me shame), the latter "vergogna dell’io" (I shame).

The hipotesis will be deveolped around the idea that shame is bounded to a double kind of signficativity: objective and subjective. Refferring to Mead’s social theory’s distinction between two componets of the Self, "Me" and "I", the author will argue that "vergogna del me" (Me shame) points out a form of shame sociologically relevant, objectivated and socialized, that concern the violation of a given core of social significativity. "Vergogna dell’io" (I shame), on the other hand, points out the subjective dimension of shame. This second form of shame can be shortly defined such as a social compression of intersubjective sources of resubjectivation.

Once the author have shortly discussed about the distinction between "vergogna del me" (Me shame) e "vergogna dell’io" (I shame), he will focus on a form of "vergogna dell’io" (I shame) called "vergogna dell’io critica" (critical I Shame). After a theoretical definition, the author will propose a case study dedicated to this form. In this case study the author will try to emphasize the normative and emancipative role of shame along with the social introduction of this kind of emotion inside the partecipation to social movements in a case of eviction. The aim of the case studies is not to offer a strictly empirical check, but to test the hermeneutical capability of the concepts on the social events studied in the case study.

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