On the Meaning of Volunteering: A Study of Worldviews in Everyday Life

Foundations of Science 21 (2):315-333 (2016)


This article is intended to contribute to the discussion on the meaning of volunteering by investigating voluntary work from the viewpoint of volunteers active in Swedish civil society organizations.Meaning refers both to the cognitive meaning of concepts and to the perceived meaning in life. The aim to uncover the predicates that people attribute to the concept is an attempt to anatomize volunteering as a social construct. Five predicates emerged and they make up the phenomenological structure of volunteering. By contextualizing this structure in contemporary Swedish society, it is demonstrated that the conceptual meaning of volunteering has significance for its existential meaning. The volunteers say that their authenticity is confirmed through the voluntary work since they are making themselves manifest in public. Following Hannah Arendt, the reasons for this is that authenticity demands that the volunteers conduct their actions in a public realm where their actions acquire an intrinsic value as neither coerced nor instrumental

Download options


    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 72,743

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library


Added to PP

28 (#413,193)

6 months
1 (#387,390)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

References found in this work

After Virtue: A Study in Moral Theory.Alasdair C. MacIntyre - 1983 - University of Notre Dame Press.
The Ethics of Authenticity.Charles Taylor - 1992 - Harvard University Press.
The Reluctant Modernism of Hannah Arendt.Seyla Benhabib - 1996 - Rowman & Littlefield Publishers.
Foresight and Understanding.Neil Cooper - 1963 - Les Etudes Philosophiques 18 (2):239-240.

View all 16 references / Add more references

Similar books and articles

The Dynamics of Change in Everyday Life: Final Response.Johan von Essen - 2016 - Foundations of Science 21 (2):343-346.
The Priscilla and Aquila Endowment - Valuing Volunteers.Russ Nelson - 2011 - The Australasian Catholic Record 88 (3):284.
Narratives of Volunteering.Piero Paolicchi - 1995 - Journal of Moral Education 24 (2):159-173.
Enriching Corporate Sponsored Volunteering Activities: A Work Design Perspective.Karl Pajo & Louise Lee - 2010 - Proceedings of the International Association for Business and Society 21:79-90.