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Continuity and Change in Voluntary ActionPatterns, Trends and Understandings$
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Rose Lindsey and John Mohan

Print publication date: 2018

Print ISBN-13: 9781447324836

Published to Policy Press Scholarship Online: January 2019

DOI: 10.1332/policypress/9781447324836.001.0001

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Attitudes to voluntary action

Attitudes to voluntary action

(p.183) Eight Attitudes to voluntary action
Continuity and Change in Voluntary Action

Rose Lindsey

John Mohan

Sarah Bulloch

Elizabeth Metcalfe

Policy Press

This chapter reviews existing research on attitudes to voluntary action. Despite the importance of this topic, public attitudes have received even less consistent consideration over time than voluntary action itself. This chapter summarises information from the National Survey of Volunteering (1981 and 1991) and the British Social Attitudes Surveys (from the 1990s) on the virtues of voluntarism, and the relationship between voluntary action and government policy. However, given the later gaps in the statistical record, the emphasis in the chapter is firmly upon two key Mass Observation Project directives, implemented 16 years apart, in 1996 and 2012. Writers have a strong sense of where the boundary should lie between statutory responsibility and voluntary initiative; and demonstrate particular concerns of and criticisms about the use of volunteers to substitute for paid staff, and to undercut the position of the lowest-paid members of society. Writers also discuss strong concerns about the ways in which governments take the contribution of volunteers for granted, leading to scepticism about individual and community capacities to take on further social responsibilities. We argue that the rationales on which appeals for greater voluntary effort are made are crucial to the success of these appeals.

Keywords:   public attitudes, Big Society, job substitution, statutory responsibility, community capacity, voluntary action

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