Volunteering & Exploitation

Exploitation was defined as a situation where there is no free will of the volunteer, or his work only helps others to gain profit. Aside from this, examples of volunteers who do the work of normal employees were also discussed, addressing the problem of work substitution: in what case is volunteering justified and when can it destroy a paid job? We mentioned the case of people who would pay to do volunteering, especially in the field of humanitarian work. Some considered that these short-term experiences should be avoided because the volunteers are usually only used as working tourist.

It was stated that clear and transparent communication is necessary to get better access to information for volunteers and to avoid exploitation. Finally, we raised several questions, which remained controversial: If volunteering is defined as something bringing benefit to society, who should judge what is beneficial? Should the volunteer always decide for himself what to do with his time, energy and creativity? Or should state and society give the general direction in order to avoid voluntary action that only opposes the interests of the majority?

OpenForum 10 – BrugesV11 – Volunteering 2011