The voluntary spaces of charity shops: workplaces or domestic spaces?

Liz Parsons

in Landscapes of voluntarism

Published by Policy Press

Published in print June 2006 | ISBN: 9781861346322
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9781447302650 | DOI:
The voluntary spaces of charity shops: workplaces or domestic spaces?

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Over the past 10 years, the charity retail sector has experienced a raft of organisational changes moving from a set of locally coordinated operations managed entirely on voluntary effort, to a series of national chains of shops with attendant management hierarchies and increased sets of regulatory policies designed to promote accountability and standardisation. This chapter discusses the changes to the structure of charity retail organisations and the associated changing nature of charity shops as voluntary spaces. It explains the understandings and experiences of charity shop volunteers, examining how and why they are significant in their daily lives and questioning the extent to which broader moves to professionalise such spaces impact on the quality of these volunteers' experiences. Finally, it explores the conflicting experiences of the voluntary spaces of charity shops, including the importance of the shops in creating spaces for sociality and belonging in the local community, spaces for the expression of social concern, and spaces which offer an important alternative to paid work environments. Such experiences suggest that government discourses around volunteering as a form of active citizenship may be problematic.

Keywords: charity retail sector; voluntary space; sociality; professionalisation; citizenship

Chapter.  6548 words. 

Subjects: Organizations

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