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Literature Review - Linking Volunteering and Social Cohesion: Causal Evidence in the UK and Beyond

Abrams, Dominic and Horsham, Zoe and Davies, Ben (2023) Literature Review - Linking Volunteering and Social Cohesion: Causal Evidence in the UK and Beyond. Project report. University of Kent and Belong Network 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.101468. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.101468) (KAR id:101468)


This review, conducted with Belong for the UK DCMS (Department for Digital,Culture, Media and Sport) systematically assesses the academic and grey literatures on the relationship between social cohesion (including social capital) and volunteering. It first considers definitions and ways of evaluating cohesion and volunteering, then examines evidence on how each can influence the other. The review also considers the role of relevant demographic factors in volunteering and barriers to volunteer recruitment. Evidence is drawn from a broad literature focusing primarily on evidence in the US and UK from the year 2000 onwards to determine both what may be generalisable and what might be specific to different contexts. From an initial trawl of over 400,000 items of evidence, we identified 101 that could directly address the causal relationships between volunteering and cohesion. We conclude that there is a bi-directional causal relationship, that the impact of formal volunteering is greater than that of informal volunteering on social cohesion, and that barriers to either cohesion or volunteering may adversely affect the other.

Item Type: Reports and Papers (Project report)
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.101468
Projects: The Power of Connection - volunteering to strengthen social cohesion (Project ID 549932)
Uncontrolled keywords: Social cohesion, volunteering, social capital
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
H Social Sciences > HT Communities. Classes. Races
Divisions: Divisions > Division of Human and Social Sciences > School of Psychology
Funders: Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (
Depositing User: Dominic Abrams
Date Deposited: 30 May 2023 22:07 UTC
Last Modified: 22 Jun 2023 13:44 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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