VOLUNTEER MOVEMENT IN GERMANY (CURRENT ASPECTS)
Keywords:volunteering, social movements, social support, refugees, private initiatives, local communities, global challenges
This article covers the topics of volunteer movement, its social essence and significance in the modern world, as well as the shifts in its concept as a response to global social and cultural changes in the 21th century. This study is conducted using historical data and current experience of the volunteer movement in Germany. The goal of this article is to define the organizational specifics and nature of modern volunteering, based on the present-day reality and its most significant global challenges, as well as to summarise the latest experiences of volunteer movement in Germany associated with the forced mass migration of Ukrainian refugees.
The results of the study made it possible to outline some guidelines for the non-governmental organisations that provide social support to vulnerable populations, in particular, people who have been exposed to a trauma caused by life-threatening events. To achieve the goal, such research methods as analysis and synthesis, generalisation, comparison, logical analysis method, survey, content analysis were used. Special attention has been paid to the support provided to refugees fleeing from countries where hostilities are taking place (on the example of refugees from Ukraine). The article uses data from special monitoring surveys of Ukrainian refugees conducted by the Institute for Economic Research (Germany), as well as the author’s own experience of volunteer work in Munich. In addition, as an illustration to the topic, the results of a small online survey of Ukrainian refugees are presented. The participants of the survey were women who were forced to leave Ukraine for Germany due to hostilities and received support from volunteers — the owners of local hotel businesses. The source of data on the number and composition of volunteers in Germany is a survey that has been carried out every 5 years since 1999. The 2019 study covered 27.7 thousand people aged 14 years and older. Based on the data, it was possible to draw conclusions regarding the advantages and disadvantages of the modern volunteering movement in Germany, as well as provide practical guidelines, which are primarily aimed at improving the effectiveness of volunteer work. In particular, the authors have identified the main features of modern transformations of volunteering. These transformations are characterized by transition from associative, unstructured forms to well-organized and highly specialized ones. The changes also affected the motivational characteristics of volunteers — the transition from altruism to pragmatism. One of the conclusions of the study is the identification of conflicting assessments of such changes: along with an increase in the effectiveness of volunteer work, its complication and excessive bureaucratization are observed. As a result, a negative attitude towards such work may be formed. The conclusions of this article can be useful for increasing the effectiveness of volunteer organizations in other countries, as well as scaling up experience through greater specialization, increasing the professional level of volunteers, and expanding activities.
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