Volunteering, social cohesion and race: the German Technical Relief Service

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Charlotte Chadderton University of East London, UK

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This article contributes to the debate on whether volunteering influences social cohesion, and argues that issues of race equality should be considered in this discussion. While the German government, like other European states, promotes volunteering as a way of improving social cohesion, discussions on social cohesion in Germany tend not to mention race explicitly, while studies on volunteering tend to neglect to explore race at all. When they do, race is simply considered a factor influencing engagement, rather than a structural issue. Employing the example of the German Technical Relief Service for civil defence, the article explores race relations and representation in Germany, where discussions on race generally remain taboo, drawing on theories of structural racism and whiteness. The article concludes that it cannot be unproblematically assumed that volunteering leads to social cohesion in an ethnically diverse society if racial inequalities are not addressed.

Charlotte Chadderton University of East London, UK

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Voluntary Sector Review
An international journal of third sector research, policy and practice