Collective and Reflexive Styles of Volunteering: A Sociological Modernization Perspective

  • Lesley Hustinx
  • Frans Lammertyn


This paper presents a theory-guided examination of the (changing) nature of volunteering through the lens of sociological modernization theories. Existing accounts of qualitative changes in motivational bases and patterns of volunteering are interpreted against the background of broader, modernization-driven social-structural transformations. It is argued that volunteer involvement should be qualified as a biographically embedded reality, and a new analytical framework of collective and reflexive styles of volunteering is constructed along the lines of the ideal-typical biographical models that are delineated by modernization theorists. Styles of volunteering are understood as essentially multidimensional, multiform, and multilevel in nature. Both structural-behavioral and motivational-attitudinal volunteering features are explored along the lines of six different dimensions: the biographical frame of reference, the motivational structure, the course and intensity of commitment, the organizational environment, the choice of (field of) activity, and the relation to paid work.

modernization theory biography reflexivity volunteerism styles of volunteering 


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Copyright information

© International Society for Third-Sector Research and The Johns Hopkins University 2003

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lesley Hustinx
    • 1
  • Frans Lammertyn
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of SociologyCatholic University of LeuvenLeuvenBelgium

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