Om det ideella arbetets betydelse : – en studie om människors livsåskådningar

Sammanfattning: The point of departure for this dissertation is the question of how people perceive what it means to be a citizen. In Sweden, voluntary work is a widespread social phenomenon and studying what voluntary work means to people enables the study of an important form of citizenship in contemporary society. The aims of the dissertation are to clarify the meaning of voluntary work and study themes in the view on society and the outlook of mankind emerging from the perspective of voluntary work.The study consists of interviews with people who do voluntary work within environmental organizations, sports clubs, and welfare organizations.The interviewees describe voluntary work as being: unpaid, aimed at benefiting others, a free choice, an expression of engagement, and performed in a community. These five themes constitute a departure towards a phenomenological structure of voluntary work. Voluntary work is moreover percieved as a way of gaining an identity, achieving self-realization, and experiencing meaning. These three themes seems to be fundamental functions of voluntary work. When society is described from the perspective of voluntary work, it is perceived as being materialistic and faceless. In contrast, voluntary work seems to offer an arena i a public context for people to act authentically for the good of others.The interview responses are discussed in relation to the individualization in the modern society. There is no support for the notion of antagonism between individualism and voluntary work. More accurately, they describe voluntary work as a way of standing out as an individual in society. The interview subjects consequently portray the civil society as a free zone in which people can express their citizenship. In summary, voluntary work seems to emerge as a way for people to give shape and form to their citizenship and appear as individuals in a public sphere.

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