| Max-Weber-Kolleg, Religion, Society, and World Relations, Research

New project on social inequality and volunteering at the University of Erfurt

The German Foundation for Commitment and Volunteering is funding a new project by Professor Bettina Hollstein from the Max Weber Centre for Advanced Cultural and Social Studies at the University of Erfurt with a total of 70,000 euros. Its title is "Experiences of socially disadvantaged people in voluntary work - What can organisations learn from this for promoting engagement?". The project started on 1 April and will be carried out over the next twelve months in cooperation with the "Bundesverband der Mütterzentren e. V." and the "Caritasregion Mittelthüringen".

Based on qualitative interviews with socially disadvantaged volunteers in different contexts, the project aims to shed light on their approaches to volunteering, their experiences in volunteering, their motives and also their perspectives, wishes and suggestions for shaping volunteering. Within the framework of a Citizen Science approach, the conditions for the successful engagement of people who are particularly affected by social inequality will be developed. This includes framework conditions, forms of institutionalisation, ways of communicating, organisation, culture of recognition, etc. These conditions for success will not be examined in detail. These conditions for success will not be developed abstractly, but will be determined from the concrete experiences of those involved and validated in workshops with those affected. In addition to the workshops, handouts for organisations working with volunteers and a scientific publication for knowledge transfer will be developed.

Bettina Hollstein: "Volunteering is an important way to give concrete expression to different ideas of the good life in a society. In voluntary work, people make sure of these ideas, they experience recognition, form networks, practise democratic processes and create relationships in civil society. Volunteering thus also creates learning spaces for democracy and enables people to experience self-efficacy and appreciation - beyond the labour market. Volunteering is thus not only valuable for society, which benefits from the services provided by volunteers, but also for the volunteers themselves, for whom it is part of their life and identity and because it enables them to give it a concrete and tangible expression. Analysing the conditions to make this possible for people in socially disadvantaged situations is the aim of this research project."

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