Emmaüs and the Abbé Pierre

Publisher’s web site

Axelle Brodiez-Dolino, Presses de Sciences Po, Paris, France, 2009

Widely regarded as a modern-day prophet, for the people of France the Abbé Pierre personified the revolt against injustice and precarious living conditions. A judicious combination of priest and critic of the Church, he dispensed classic charity and political attack with equal effectiveness.

What was his role and position within Emmaus? How did a tiny band of ragpickers, emerging from the detritus of post-war Paris, become one of the largest NGOs in France, and a significant and highly cost-effective social enterprise?

This book takes the reader behind the doors of Emmaus, an organisation still overshadowed by its founder but otherwise largely unknown. Through its innovative relationship with the poor, its early media visibility, and its unique approach to recycling, Emmaus has breathed new life into the struggle against mass poverty, poor housing, unemployment, social breakdown and debt, and deployed practical tools to combat it. Yet its role as an international movement fighting world hunger and as a religious organisation acting as standard-bearer for social action is still not widely recognised.

Axelle Brodiez-Dolino traces the extraordinary development of contemporary humanitarianism and an important strand within French social history through the inseparable narratives of Emmaus and the Abbé Pierre. This is also the story of the growth and development of a unique multi-national social enterprise, offering new insights into the dynamism behind organisations committed to social change.