Civil society and voluntarism

In recent years, there has been an increased political and academic focus on the involvement on volunteers in welfare services. In Denmark, voluntary organizations are encouraged to partake in Physical Education at public schools or care for the elderly at nursing homes. Voluntary organizations have, however, been part of the Danish welfare mix for more than a hundred years, working especially with marginalized groups: Homeless and poor people, prostitutes, alcoholics, and drug addicts. Most of these associations have been built on a religious foundation. Their contribution is, however, largely neglected, and thus not part of the public or academic narrative of the Danish welfare state.

The aim of this project is to investigate this link between religion and social voluntarism in order to better understand the religious influence on present day Danish society.

The project is driven by questions such as: How do strong religious commitments arise? How do religious doctrines influence voluntary engagement? How does the religious color of social work influence the relation between volunteer and ‘voluntee’? And how have voluntary religious organizations reacted to the growth of and ‘colonization’ by the welfare state?

Concretely, the project is a case study of the organization ‘Indre Mission’ (Inner Mission or Home Mission) – an evangelical wing of the Church of Denmark. Indre Mission originated in the revivalist movements of the early 19th century. Combining a strong focus on the inner experience of the gospel and the Lutheran doctrine of ‘salvation by faith alone’ with a strong emphasis on moral conduct, the organization grew to be central for the social work carried out in Copenhagen in the latter part of the 19th century. Thus, many of the organizations working with vulnerable social groups today originate in the work carried out by Indre Mission. The project works from the hypotheses that the moral-religious doctrine of Indre Mission were central in inspiring commitment and giving a language to philanthropic projects involving voluntary social work. The project aims to understand the link between religious ideas and voluntary social work, how these ideas were institutionalized in the emerging welfare state, and how the religious ideas were aligned with other ideas in modern society such as eugenics and social democracy.

The case study seeks to contribute to research in motives, practices and principles of voluntarism; the relation between civil society and the state; and the welfare state and social citizenship.

The subproject will be carried out by Anders Sevelsted

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PhD scholarships in young people's self-organised networks and communities, democratic governance and social media.

Copenhagen Business School invites applications for a three-year position as PhD scholarships in the CISTAS project at the Department of Management, Politics and Philosophy (MPP). Application deadline 1.10.18
Civil Society Research at EGOs

Together with leading scholars in the field, CISTAS project places civil society research on the agenda at EGOs through a SWG
Workshops at MatchPoints Aarhus 2018

CISTAS participates at the MatchPoints seminar with two workshops
CISTAS researcher Anders Sevelsted has been rewarded a 2-year Post-doc

On the project: The Moral Elites. Who shaped the Danish Welfare State (1890-1933)?
Successful PhD Defense

Congratulations to CISTAS researcher Anders Sevelsted!