Journal of Civil Society vol:6 issue:2 pages:165-179
In this paper, it is argued that the ongoing debate on new and more individualized forms of volunteering is too one-sidedly focused on processes of de-structuration and de-institutionalization. Individualization is a complex and ambivalent macro-structural process toward ‘institutionally dependent individual situations’. To fully understand emerging forms of volunteering, we thus need to ‘reconstruct beyond de-construction’. The concept of ‘institutionally individualized volunteering’, developed in this paper, induces such a paradigm shift. It refers to the growing institutionalization of more individuated forms of volunteering, that is, to new forms of collective organisation based on individual assignment and choice. It is argued that the institutionalization of individualized volunteering occurs through ‘primary’ and ‘secondary’ processes of re-structuring. Re-embedding in primary contexts is facilitated by voluntary associations that offer more attractive and flexible volunteering menus to (potential) volunteers. Secondary forms of institutionally individualized volunteering, on the other hand, are emerging as new spaces of fundamental ambivalence. They represent new forms of highly rationalized top-down production of volunteer opportunities in hybrid organisational settings.