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Volunteering, social cohesion and race: the German Technical Relief Service

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This article contributes to the debate on whether volunteering influences social cohesion, and argues that issues of race equality should be considered in this discussion. While the German government, like other European states, promotes volunteering as a way of improving social cohesion, discussions on social cohesion in Germany tend not to mention race explicitly, while studies on volunteering tend to neglect to explore race at all. When they do, race is simply considered a factor influencing engagement, rather than a structural issue. Employing the example of the German Technical Relief Service for civil defence, the article explores race relations and representation in Germany, where discussions on race generally remain taboo, drawing on theories of structural racism and whiteness. The article concludes that it cannot be unproblematically assumed that volunteering leads to social cohesion in an ethnically diverse society if racial inequalities are not addressed.
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Keywords: HOMOGENOUS STATE; RACE; SOCIAL COHESION; VOLUNTEERING

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: 2016-11-01

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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