Localism, voluntarism and devolution: experiences, opportunities and challenges in a changing policy context

M Woolvin, I Hardill

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


This article focuses on the importance of the community context for voluntarism within shifting discourses of localism in England and Scotland. Mobilising communities through the encouragement and support of voluntarism is an important policy and practice driver in both jurisdictions, but is non-reserved. In this context, we outline the ways localism discourses have been mobilised,drawing on case study research in deprived urban areas of Scotland and England to explore the implications of these for sustaining voluntarism. We argue it is important to recognise that the social, spatial and economic context in which voluntarism takes place is multi-layered: some acts are undertaken through an organisation, others may be part of one-to-one acts of helping, orthrough semi-formal or informal neighbourhood/community groups. If expectations of furthervoluntarism are to be realistic and sustainable, discourses of localism must support this at thelocal level and recognise the diverse range of both visible and less visible acts which take placeover time. Otherwise unrealistic, unsustainable and ultimately unachievable models and amountsof voluntary participation may be asked of communities, posing serious challenges for ‘localism’discourse.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)273 - 285
Number of pages13
JournalLocal Economy
Issue number3
Publication statusFirst published - 2013

Bibliographical note



  • Devolution
  • Scotland
  • Third sector
  • Volunteering


Dive into the research topics of 'Localism, voluntarism and devolution: experiences, opportunities and challenges in a changing policy context'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this