The System’s “Sticking Plaster”? Voluntary Work in late Modernity

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Marek Nowak


This paper describes the problem of voluntary work in the historical context. The analysis describes the evolution of voluntas from the classic concept of the will to contemporary practices of treating voluntary action as an element of the professional curriculum vitae. This evolution is significant for late modernity and for the crisis situation in the labour market. The voluntary now means something close to work in various labour sectors. The interpretation suggests that voluntary action nowadays is beginning to play the role of the so-called sticking plaster of the system. Finally, the author introduces the results of an empirical investigation carried out in 2011 in Poland (Poznań, Wrocław, and Gdańsk).



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How to Cite
Nowak, M. (2012). The System’s “Sticking Plaster”? Voluntary Work in late Modernity. Studia Historiae Oeconomicae, 30, 135-152. Retrieved from
Author Biography

Marek Nowak, Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań

Marek Nowak – sociologist and Assistant Professor at the Department of Social Sciences, Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań. He specializes in the problems of an economic sociology, social mobility, and social activism. He is the author of a book about institutionalism, and co-editor of collections of texts concerning radical social change (with K. Brzechczyn: O rewolucji. Obrazy radykalnej zmiany społecznej [On Revolution. Pictures of Radical Social Change], Wydawnictwo Instytutu Filozofii UAM, Poznań 2007), revitalization of the city (with M. Nowosielski, Declining Cities/Developing Cities: Polish and German Perspectives, Wydawnictwo Instytutu Zachodniego, Poznań 2008), and spatial mobility (with M. Nowosielski: (Post)transformational Migration. Inequality Welfare State, and Horizontal Mobility, Peter Lang, Frankfurt, 2011). He is the head of the Poznań Branch of the Polish Sociological Association.