Civic Action and Volunteering: The Changing Space for Popular Engagement in England

  • Mike AikenEmail author
  • Marilyn Taylor
Original Paper


The idea that volunteering and civic action may both play a role within the work of voluntary organizations has a long historical legitimacy in England. However, recent policy trends appear to undermine notions that the critical expression of official views is acceptable. In particular, where voluntary organizations are engaged in service-level contracts with statutory agencies, engagement in the political sphere is seen as risky. This paper takes an historical and analytic perspective to examine the evolution of volunteering and civic action in England. It examines how different discourses have affected spaces for popular engagement of voluntary organizations over time and the degree to which these are changing. The paper considers ways in which the complex and dynamic variations of this engagement can be understood in the contemporary voluntary sector.


Volunteers Civic action Political sphere Discourses 


Compliance with Ethical Standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.OUMilton KeynesUK
  2. 2.Institute Voluntary Action ResearchLondonUK

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