Welfare states providing public goods regularly come under criticism: They are seen as too expensive and leading to unaffordable public expenditure and their performance is often called inefficient. In order to avoid these tendencies, there is the concept of an activating state, which empowers people, enables active citizenship and thus rests not only on its own bureaucratic resources but also on volunteering.
The participants concluded that a balance between personal responsibility, state action and voluntary work seemed desirable:
- Each individual has to be aware that all resources consumed need to be provided by somebody.
- The state continuously needs to find the fragile balance between “not spoiling” on the one hand but “providing what is needed” on the other.
- Volunteering needs to be perceived as a rewarding way of contributing due to the social contact and the experience it provides.
- Volunteers can be expected to be more aware on other people’s needs and on the capacities of public welfare systems.
In this sense, volunteering is an valuable contributor to a democratic welfare state. In any case, people volunteering can be expected to be more aware and to have a better judgment on other people’s needs and on the capacities of public welfare systems. In this sense, volunteering is an valuable contributor to a democratic welfare state.