The Unlikely Altruist: Practices of Exclusion in Volunteer-Based Social Work

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Despite the benevolent image of the voluntary sector, social inequalities in volunteerism persist. In this research article, I present empirical findings from observations of and interviews with volunteers and staff in a Danish non-profit organization that strives for “inclusive volunteering.” Even here, I find that organizational gatekeepers in the form of paid volunteer supervisors and core volunteers make use of three different exclusionary practices which create barriers for participation for younger and working-class volunteers: non-recruitment, informal exclusion, and formal exclusion. These exclusionary practices are seemingly utilized in the attempt to translate abstract notions of “the ideal volunteer” based on aspirant volunteers’ social status.
Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of Social Work Values & Ethics
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)53-69
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Externally publishedYes

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