chapter  4
20 Pages

Volunteer work and informal learning: Exploring the connections


Every day of the year, everywhere on the planet, millions of people do volunteer work. True, voluntary organizations have existed for centuries in many societies, often in connection to self-help and mutual solidarity, religious pursuits, social movements, cultural initiatives, altruism, and also in response to gaps in state provision in areas such as health, education, housing, environmental protection and human rights. However, the growth in the number and variety of organizations since the last decades of the twentieth century is so impressive that some researchers have noticed a ‘global associational revolution’, a phenomenon that emerged partly from dramatic breakthroughs in information technology and literacy that have ignited people’s awareness and willingness to change their circumstances and improve the social world, partly from the increased capacity of voluntary organizations to translate those dispositions into social action, and partly to the retreat of the state from providing services such as health-or eldercare (Salamon, Sokolowski and List 2003: 3; Lacey and Ilcan 2006).