Self-Help and Mutual Aid Group Volunteering

  • Carol Munn-Giddings
  • Tomofumi Oka
  • Thomasina Borkman
  • Grace L. Chikoto
  • Jürgen Matzat
  • Rolando Montaño-Fraire


This chapter explores a type of formal volunteering, carried out in groups, by peers who share a problematic health, economic, or social condition or situation. Peers meet together in self-help/mutual aid groups (SH/MAGs) to alleviate or improve their own circumstances. Of particular importance are the reciprocal social relationships in these groups – active participants both give and receive support. The chapter traces the broad history of SH/MAGs, reflecting similarities and differences in the co-authors’ regions of the world. The benefits that accrue to people active in SH/MAGs are highlighted at a personal, collective, and community level. The authors explore how self-help/mutual aid is enabled, given the challenges currently facing this form of volunteering, including global economic austerity and the dominance of professional and paternalistic modes of help.

We use the dual term SH/MA to emphasize a distinguishing feature of this type of volunteering: SH/MA is an activity based on a kind of reciprocity known as the helper principle.


Civil Society Postpartum Depression Alcoholic Anonymous Formal Volunteer Credit Association 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • Carol Munn-Giddings
    • 1
  • Tomofumi Oka
    • 2
  • Thomasina Borkman
    • 3
  • Grace L. Chikoto
    • 4
  • Jürgen Matzat
    • 5
  • Rolando Montaño-Fraire
    • 6
  1. 1.UK
  2. 2.Japan
  3. 3.USA
  4. 4.Zimbabwe
  5. 5.Germany
  6. 6.Mexico

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