The professional way to ‘do good’: A multi-sited ethnography of professionalization processes in the European and Flemish fields of volunteer management

01 November 2019 → 31 October 2022
Research Foundation - Flanders (FWO)
Research disciplines
No data available
Volunteering Volunteer management Ethnography Third sector Professionalization
Project description

In recent years, ‘volunteering’ has become an object of intensified public interest and promotion, including intensive efforts to manage it in ‘effectively’ and ‘professionally’. Scholars of volunteering often tend to support these efforts though instrumental studies aimed at improving volunteer management techniques. The proposed project aspires to advance a scholarly shift that will explore the sociological meanings of the proliferating field of volunteering promotion and management.
To this end, the proposed study focuses on processes of professionalization among volunteer managers: it seeks to explain why and how ‘professionalism’ became a significant discursive notion in the proliferating field of volunteer management, and why there is a rising aspiration to professionalization; it will depict the strategies and measures taken to realize this aspiration and will characterize the actors involved in these processes.
Participant observation, interviewing and content analysis will be conducted to explore the trainings, credentialing mechanisms and knowledge production that together form the professional project of volunteer management. This professional project will be explored through multi-sited ethnography on a European level and in Flanders. It will contribute to ongoing debates in the sociology of professions and professionalization and in the field of volunteering and third sector research.