Exploring personal communities: A review of volunteering processes


Principal Investigator: Professor Mihaela Kelemen, Keele University
Co-investigators: Dr Anita Mangan, Keele University
Collaborators: Sue Moffat, Director, New Vic Borderlines
Duration: 2012

Exploring Personal Communities: A Review of Volunteering Processes investigates the idea that personal communities contribute to the public good by offering ways to transcend commonplace dualisms such as public/private and individual/collective. The aim of the review is to explore the personal community through the lens of volunteering in order to shed light on the ways in which individuals experience and adjust to one another within and across communities. Drawing on a wide-ranging, multi-disciplinary review of over ninety books and journal articles, the report contributes four findings: it (a) positions personal communities by focusing on the idea that individualism can achieve social purposes and become a resource for public policy; (b) proposes a typology of volunteering that accounts for the multiple, simultaneous and often contradictory motivations of volunteers; (c) investigates the commodification of the voluntary sector and the loss of political voice ; (d) explores the social outcomes of volunteering and the central role of volunteering in the making of personal communities. Finally, in co-operation with New Vic Borderlines, our community partner, Exploring Personal Communities concluded with a documentary drama created and performed by volunteers, which explored the experience of being a volunteer in Stoke-on-Trent.