Personal agency and public recognition in women's volunteering: does the organisation make a difference?

Rosemary Leonard, Ailsa Burns

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    Two different images of volunteering have been proposed. The first focuses on formal volunteering, that is volunteering through a third-sector organisation, and emphasises the free-choice nature of voluntary work, the public nature of the work and the high degree of personal agency involved. By contrast, the second image of volunteering treats all unpaid work, other than political lobbying, as probably exploitative, lacking in public recognition and voluntary in name only. The issue of whether the organisation makes a difference was explored in fifty-four life-review interviews with mid-life and older women. Women's formal and informal volunteering was explored within the dimensions of agency and public recognition. The results supported the proposition that in general high agency, highly public activities were associated with formal volunteering and low agency, private activities were associated with informal volunteering. While many formal activities, however, were limited in their public exposure they still differed from informal activities in that they often networked people who would not otherwise have contact. Formal voluntary activities also varied in the degree of agency exhibited. The discussion addresses the potential of community organisations to increase social capital and the status of women.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)33-41
    Number of pages9
    JournalAustralian journal on volunteering
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 2003


    Dive into the research topics of 'Personal agency and public recognition in women's volunteering: does the organisation make a difference?'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

    Cite this