Voluntary work of citizens for the benefit of society at large or its underprivileged members is a salient feature of developed civic cultures. Under state socialism, the very essence of volunteerism was hollowed out by its top–down, coercive “management” and ideological control. This article highlights the experiences and perceptions of voluntary work under socialism drawing on retrospective narratives of ex-Soviet immigrants in Israel who continued volunteering after migration. In conclusion, we reflect on the economic and political functions of “mandatory volunteering” in the USSR and discuss some of their analogies in Western democracies. Our study helps elicit the reasons for the slow expansion of volunteering behavior among post-socialist citizens in the former Soviet Union and Eastern Europe.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Sociology and Political Science