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Religion and Volunteering

Complex, contested and ambiguous relationships

  • Book
  • © 2015


  • Challenges standard interpretation of the relationship between religion and volunteering
  • Further defines the complex phenomenon of religion and volunteerism
  • Looks beyond Western world and religions
  • Includes supplementary material:

Part of the book series: Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies (NCSS)

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About this book

Religion is considered a key predictor of volunteering: the more religious people are, the more likely they are to volunteer. This positive association enjoys significant support in current research; in fact, it could be considered the ‘default perspective’ on the relationship between both phenomena. In this book, the authors claim that, although the dominant approach is legitimate and essential, it nonetheless falls short in grasping the full complexity of the interaction between religion and volunteering. It needs to be recognized that there are tensions between religion and volunteering, and that these tensions are intensifying as a result of the changing meaning and role of religion in society. Therefore, the central aim and contribution of this book is to demonstrate that the relationship between religion and volunteering is not univocal but differentiated, ambiguous and sometimes provocative. By introducing the reader to a much wider landscape of perspectives, this volume offers a richer, more complex and variable understanding. Apart from the established positive causality, the authors examine tensions between religion and volunteering from the perspective of religious obligation, religious change, processes of secularization and notions of post-secularity. They further explore how actions that are considered altruistic, politically neutral and motivated by religious beliefs can be used for political reasons. This volume opens up the field to new perspectives on religious actors and on how religion and volunteering are enacted outside Western liberal and Christian societies. It emphasizes interdisciplinary perspectives, including theology, philosophy, sociology, political science, anthropology and architecture.

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Table of contents (16 chapters)

  1. Theologies of Religion and Volunteering

  2. Religion as a Determinant of Volunteering

  3. Religion and Volunteering in a (Post-)Secular Context

  4. Politics of Religion and Volunteering

Editors and Affiliations

  • Ghent University, Ghent, Belgium

    Lesley Hustinx

  • Institute for Civil Society Studies, Ersta Sköndal University College, Stockholm, Sweden

    Johan von Essen

  • Universitair Centrum Sint-Ignatius Antwerpen, Antwerp, Belgium

    Jacques Haers, Sara Mels

About the editors

Lesley Hustinx is assistant professor at the Department of Sociology of Ghent University

Johan Von Essen is Doctor of Divinity and Researcher at the Institute for Civil Society Studies, Ersta Sköndal University College

Jacques Haers is director of academic affairs at the University Centre Saint-Ignatius Antwerp

Sara Mels is project-coordinator at the University Centre Saint-Ignatius Antwerp

Bibliographic Information

  • Book Title: Religion and Volunteering

  • Book Subtitle: Complex, contested and ambiguous relationships

  • Editors: Lesley Hustinx, Johan von Essen, Jacques Haers, Sara Mels

  • Series Title: Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies

  • DOI:

  • Publisher: Springer Cham

  • eBook Packages: Humanities, Social Sciences and Law, Social Sciences (R0)

  • Copyright Information: Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-3-319-04584-9Published: 05 August 2014

  • Softcover ISBN: 978-3-319-34669-4Published: 17 September 2016

  • eBook ISBN: 978-3-319-04585-6Published: 17 July 2014

  • Series ISSN: 1568-2579

  • Edition Number: 1

  • Number of Pages: XVI, 352

  • Number of Illustrations: 1 b/w illustrations, 9 illustrations in colour

  • Topics: Sociology, general, Sociology of Culture, Religious Studies, general

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