The role of civil society in securing self-assessed quality of life in rural areas

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This chapter asks how do inhabitants in Danish rural areas assess whether, how and why participation in civil society influences their quality of life. Theoretically, we argue that the importance for civil society’s role in influencing life satisfaction depends on whether the citizens are engaged in social networks which are profound and long lasting. Twenty-eight semi-structured interviews with individuals who were in different ways and to a different extent engaged in civil society in three different rural settings in Denmark form the empirical base of the analysis. In the analysis we show that long-lasting and deep participation in civil society results in higher levels of quality of life. Specifically, we point to three different mechanisms which we illustrate in three themes: Theme 1: Making activities possible for other local citizens, Theme 2: Contributing to civil society is rewarding for the individual, and Theme 3: It is rewarding to be a part of the struggle for overcoming the challenges of living in rural areas. Further, we argue that an age difference exists, as the younger persons, to a greater extent than older persons, participate in civil society to get a rich social life with friends. The older persons to a greater extent highlight the altruistic motives for contributing to civil society. Finally, we argue that with regard to increasing quality of life, ‘collective volunteering’ seems to be of higher importance than ‘reflexive volunteering’ for the interviews in this study.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRural quality of life
EditorsPia Heike Johansen, Anne Tietjen, Evald Bundgård Iversen, Henrik Lauridsen Lolle, Jens Kaae Fisker
PublisherManchester University Press
Publication dateJan 2023
ISBN (Print)978-1-5261-6163-5
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-5261-6162-8
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2023


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