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Title: From compassion to critical resilience: Volunteering in the context of austerity
Authors: Monforte, Pierre
First Published: 20-Jun-2019
Publisher: SAGE Publications (UK and US)
Citation: Sociological Review, 2019
Abstract: This article analyses the political dimension of volunteering in the context of austerity. It explores how the economic recession and the austerity measures taken by governments in the UK in recent years affect how volunteers define their engagement and whether they relate it to more political forms of collective action such as protest. The article analyses the narratives and life trajectories of volunteers active in five charities in the field of poverty alleviation in Leicester. It shows how the context of growing inequalities and austerity leads these actors to construct hybrid – ‘in-between’ – forms of engagement in which compassionate action is mixed with social and critical resilience based on collective empowerment processes. Furthermore, it shows that participants’ narratives about their own engagement are also ambivalent: they are based on a criticism of the disempowering consequences of austerity, but they sometimes tend to reproduce dominant discourses that blame the poor for their suffering. It argues that these ambivalences are inherent to narratives based on empowerment processes. The article concludes by suggesting how the focus on these ‘in-between’ forms of engagement – and their ambivalences – can reveal some of the changing features of collective action in contemporary societies.
DOI Link: 10.1177/0038026119858220
ISSN: 0038-0261
eISSN: 1467-954X
Version: Post-print
Status: Peer-reviewed
Type: Journal Article
Rights: Copyright © 2019, SAGE Publications (UK and US). Deposited with reference to the publisher’s open access archiving policy. (
Appears in Collections:Published Articles, Dept. of Sociology

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