Discourses of Volunteerism
Public discourse often promotes volunteerism as a novel and empowering solution to social problems, and it is a signifi cant international phenomenon. In this chapter, we engage in an interdisciplinary review of the literature on the topic. We begin by clarifying three key terms around which we organize our review: volunteer, volunteering, and volunteerism. We take an explicitly discursive approach in our review, treating academic research on volunteerism as instantiations of discourses of representation, understanding, suspicion, and vulnerability (Mumby, 1997), and we use this framework to identify key areas of research and their possibilities and limitations. We conclude with some suggestions for future study.