What’s culture got to do with it? The emotional labour of immigration solicitors in their exchanges with United Kingdom Border Agency case owners.

Chalen Westaby


The Early Legal Advice Project (ELAP) was implemented in the Midlands and East region from November 2010 to December 2012, with the aim of improving sustainability, quality and cost of asylum decisions.  It was recognised by those involved in the project that in order to achieve these objectives a ‘cultural change’ was required.  This small empirical study forms the first part of a larger project, focussing on ‘cultural change’, and its meaning in relation to emotional labour expectations of immigration solicitors involved in ELAP. 

This study explores the emotional labour of immigration solicitors working within the current asylum process and specifically their exchanges with UKBA case owners. Furthermore, it emphasises the importance of understanding emotional habitus as a driver of emotional labour and the potential consequences of that performance.  It is predicted that the ‘cultural change’ required will impact on the emotional labour and emotional habitus of solicitors.  Consequently, emotional labour expectations must be considered when designing and implementing such schemes to facilitate successful outcomes.


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