Facilitating spontaneity: The state and independent volunteering in contemporary Japan

Simon A. Avenell*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

24 Citations (Scopus)


This paper traces state policies for independent volunteerism in Japan from 1945 onward. It shows how official involvement resulted in extensive institutionalization of independent volunteers and helped produce an image of volunteerism as apolitical activity for service provision within the volunteer community. Of particular note is volunteer organizations' greater openness to collaboration with officials and quasi-marketized forms of paid volunteerism. Although the 1990s have been hailed as the beginning of Japan's volunteer revolution, the paper concludes that this period is better understood as an outcome of earlier state policies which helped fashion independent volunteering into a form of service by domesticated, self-reliant subjects.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)69-93
Number of pages25
JournalSocial Science Japan Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 16 Feb 2010
Externally publishedYes


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