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1 SUMMARY This third part of the series 'Civil society and voluntary work' presents secondary analyses of a number of Dutch and international databases. This makes it possible, following the theoretical exploration of the civil society in the first part (Dekker 1994) and a case study of local participation in the second part (Van Deth and Leijenaar 1994), to present a general picture, backed up by comparative and longitudinal data, of voluntary work in the Dutch civil society. The fourth part will report on new research involving the Dutch population as a whole, with follow-up studies in four municipalities and neighbourhoods. The secondary analyses cannot be forced into a neat theory of the characteristics and functions of voluntary work in the civil society. Some points do however recur, such as social inequality in participation (measured by sex, educational and age differences), embedding in voluntary organisations, and 'social capital' and 'public discourse' as externalities of voluntary activity in the civil society. Chapter 1 begins by exploring the idea of the civil society as a starting point for research into voluntary work. It examines the various boundaries defining the 'civil society' and at the political use of the term. The civil society as a model of social order is confronted with three other models: community, market and state. This shows two 'side-products' of activities in the civil society which could provide a pointer for empirical research into voluntary work: social capital and public discourse. Social capital entails a conglomerate of networks, norms and mutual trust that promotes cooperation. Public discourse involves processes of reflection and will-formation in which groups of people and communities acknowledge their goals and problems, sometimes culminating in collective actions aimed at influencing government policy. With a view to the study of data on individuals concerning membership of organisations and voluntary work, elements and indicators from both 'side-products' are explored. Most attention is given to interpersonal trust as a characteristic of social capital. Chapter 2 begins by recounting the history of four types of organisation occupying the 'societal midfield': trade unions, churches, broadcasting associations and sports federations. Shifts in membership are documented among other things on the basis of institutional surveys and public censuses. The stabilisation or erosion of a number of organisations dating from the period when Dutch society was arranged along ideological lines ('pillars') do not mean it can be simply concluded that the Dutch are no longer moved by ideals or no longer wish to show their commitment in an organised way. The often strong increase in new members seen in several more recently formed organisations tracks the emergence of new themes in the public debate (the environment, international solidarity, ethical issues surrounding abortion and euthanasia). The second part of the chapter focuses on voluntary 267

2 work. After outlining the historical contours, the chapter briefly examines a few trends in voluntary work since the 1970s. Two sectors have seen strong growth in the last two decades; first there is voluntary work carried out in connection with schools or in the area of child care and youth work, and secondly voluntary activities in the recreational sphere (amateur art, hobbies and sport). Chapter 3 compares active membership of voluntary organisations in an international context. Membership rates (or participation in activities as a 'user') are examined in a number of societal fields in twelve countries, as is the extent to which members perform voluntary work. These data are used to draw a distinction between active civil societies in North America, with relatively large numbers of active members, broad civil societies in Scandinavia and the Netherlands, with many members but fewer 'activists', and elitist civil societies with small numbers of often highly active members as in Ireland and Southern Europe. The chapter focuses mainly on the backgrounds to membership and voluntary work and their (statistical) effects on social capital and public opinion formation. The comparison of the twelve countries reveals that the more voluntary workers there are in a country, the greater the amount of social trust is in general. For Italy, the United States and the Netherlands the chapter looks at differences between groups. Once again educational level proves to be a highly distinctive personal characteristic; sex differences occur in memberships, but are not a significant factor affecting participation in voluntary work. Some support is found for the idea that volunteers have more faith in their fellow human beings and are more involved in political discourse than non-volunteers. It seems plausible however that this has less to do with voluntary work as such than with the fact that volunteers are by definition organised. Chapter 4 offers a descriptive analysis of two international surveys of voluntary workers, one focusing on representative population samples and the other carried out among volunteers, ex-volunteers and non-volunteers aged 50 and older. Both surveys contain detailed information on voluntary work, but offer few openings for examining aspects which are important for the civil society. The population surveys reveal a positive public opinion towards voluntary work in all countries. As found in other studies, participation in voluntary work is high in Sweden and the Netherlands. Lack of time is the main reason cited for not doing voluntary work, and is especially popular with young non-volunteers. Young people (and men) tend to be active in the area of sport and recreation; older people are more likely to be active in the field of care. Few stable patterns can be discerned between the countries in terms of the motivations, activities and experiences of volunteers. The surveys of volunteers aged 50 and above reveal a large group of people who have been active for a long time. Many older volunteers have always done the same work; if they begin doing different work, they often increase their workload. The chapter concludes by discussing the limitations of surveys in studying the experiences and careers of volunteers. 268

3 Chapter 5 looks in more detail at motives for voluntary work or social participation. After summarising types of motivation for participation as identified in the literature, the authors discuss the findings of research into this issue using surveys (with closed questions) and interviews (with open questions). The differences are discussed in the context of a broader opposition between 'quantitative' and 'qualitative' research. Regardless of the method used to gather data, the same types of motivation emerge: commitment to the local community, sharing the aims of the organisation, wishing to develop social contacts and wishing to put one's own experiences and capacities to good use. Qualitative data produce important information for testing the validity of quantitative data and their statistical processing, and for suggesting modifications to survey questions. A combination of surveys and interviews appears to be the best approach, preferably supplemented by other methods such as group interviews or focus groups. Chapter 6 focuses on time budget surveys. In the time budget surveys conducted by SCP, the respondents keep a diary for seven days, detailing all their activities. The data this produces not only show the numbers of interviewees stating through the years that they have taken part in voluntary activities during the week in question, the number of hours they have spent doing so and the times they reserved for these activities, but also the place occupied by their voluntary work in the overall pattern of their activities and commitments during the survey week. The chapter begins with a few general post-war developments which have had major consequences for how time is spent. For the period the chapter examines changes in the background, social setting and age characteristics of voluntary workers. The distribution of voluntary work over the days and times of the week is also charted for the various years; the position occupied by voluntary work in the daily routine is examined on a sample day in 1975 and 1995, and the same is done for four population groups: working people, housewives, students and the economically inactive. Participation in voluntary work proves to take place mainly on weekday evenings, to a greater extent than twenty years ago on weekday and Saturday mornings, and to a lesser extent than then on Sunday mornings. The distribution of this participation is different for Dutch citizens in paid employment than for housewives and people without work, whose days are less dominated by collective time commitments. Chapter 7 examines the importance of social trust and religion for civic involvement in the United States. A distinction is made as regards social trust, between general trust in unknown fellow citizens and particular trust in 'one's own sort' of people, or friends and acquaintances. As regards the religious factor, a distinction is drawn between the growing group of Protestant fundamentalists and other believers. Fundamentalists tend to trust each other and distrust others. They do not by definition do less voluntary work, but it is limited to their own circles and therefore contributes little to the social capital of society as a whole. A further increase in fundamentalism could lead to far-reaching changes in the positive role played by religion in the American civil society as described by De Tocqueville. General social trust is seen in this chapter as a value which precedes voluntary 269

4 involvement. It is an expression of an optimistic view of the world, a view which remains relatively fixed once a person reaches adulthood. Stimulation of participation in team sports offers one possible source for the development of social capital, due to a combination of factors increased self-confidence, enlargement of social networks, respect for rules and human variety, and the urge to work together. Chapter 8 discusses the role of religion in the Dutch civil society. It can be argued in various ways that the Church still forms an important element in the Dutch civil society and that its role as a promoter of social solidarity and commitment is anything but played out. Data on the same people covered by the 1995 time budget survey and the 1996 survey 'God in the Netherlands' make it possible to investigate whether involvement with the Church increases people's trust in and efforts to help others, including at an individual level. Two aspects of the role played by the Church are of prime importance. First there is the Church's position in the formation of public opinion on moral issues. There are wide differences here between the various denominational streams, with the Calvinists as the strongest supporters of a public function for the Church. The second main theme is the ability of the Church to act as a unifying factor between individuals and to promote solidarity with society at large. A distinction is continually drawn in the analyses between the main religious movements the secular part of the population. The first major conclusion is that regular church attendance has a large and immediate effect on the willingness to join societies and perform voluntary work, and this remains the case even when the effects of time budget characteristics such as sex, age and educational level are taken into account. Attending church proves to have no influence on social trust, however. Trust between people is determined primarily by educational level, as well as by the degree to which voluntary work is carried out. Chapter 9 presents a recap. The status of voluntary work cannot be represented by a simple participation figure. Survey findings differ widely depending on the questions used. Participation rates of between 15 and 46% were found in the Netherlands between 1988 and The actual status of voluntary work in the Dutch civil society in the nineties can only be outlined in relative terms: it is relatively high from an international perspective (chapters 3 and 4) and relatively stable in terms of time (chapters 2 and 6). The prospects are also reasonably good: as an individually chosen means of useful social contact, voluntary work has every chance of surviving in a modern society. If anything, voluntary organisations are growing rather than shrinking. A shift is taking place from 'secondary organisations' (organisations with frequent contacts between members) towards 'tertiary organisations' (e.g. mailing list organisations). The difference between the two is not clear-cut, but it is probably the case that what makes organisations politically effective in a modern democracy is in opposition with their contribution to community-building and social cohesion on a smaller scale. The analyses of differences between volunteers and non-volunteers did not produce any strong indications of social capital and public discourse as externalities of activities in the civil society. Further research with more indicators and, above all, 270

5 more specific models is needed here. Finally, three emphases are highlighted for future research: participation in voluntary work must be placed in a broader framework of willingness to perform voluntary activity, with less focus on finding an 'average' causality in the population as a whole and a greater concentration on differences in the embedding of voluntary work in subcultures and on the contradictory 'mechanisms' that are at work; and above all more comparative research is needed to do justice to the notion of the civil society. The key aspects here are after all the quality of social relations, the openness and other characteristics of societies, and not the question of how volunteers differ from the rest of society. 271

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