For Work / Against Work
Debates on the centrality of work

"In Between Volunteer Work and Employment: Youth Civic Service in France and in the United States"

by Simonet, Maud (2009)


The ambiguity inherent in defining clear boundaries between volunteer work (travail bénévole), service work (travail volontaire), and professional/occupational work (travail salarié) has emerged in both France and the US as a recurrent theme in interviews conducted with youth civic service workers as well as the staff of the organizations they serve (Patel, 2005). This ambiguity is particularly apparent in the variety of ways in which youth from different socio-economic backgrounds experience service. This article explores the tensions between volunteer work, service work, and professional work, drawing on the author’s 2005 comparative study. The article will present findings on two civic service programs for youth—City Year (US) and Unis Cité (France)—focusing particularly on the complications socio-economic factors play in defining youth civic service. The article finds that the socio-economic status of the volunteers influences their paths in and out of service as well as their understanding and use of compensation.


Simonet, Sociology, Voluntarism, Unpaid Labour, Civic Service, French Context, American Context, Youth


Volunteer Work, Simonet

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