2020 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference
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9/7/2020 to 9/8/2020
When: Monday, September 7, 2020

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2020 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference

7-8 September 2020




11 May 2020

Deadline for abstract submissions

13 July 2020 @ 17.00

Early bird rate ends

10 August 2020 @ 17.00

Deadline for full paper submissions

7-8 September 2020

The conference


Call for papers             

Leading and changing in critical times: civil society responses to external and internal challenges

The voluntary sector and wider civil society are currently facing complex pressures. One is to respond to wide social challenges of increased inequality and poverty, tensions from rapid social change, and multi-faceted conflicts within international politics. At times these challenges have seen the sector lead as an innovator at a local and global level, and perhaps a growing sense of agency as it seeks a stronger voice in defining its own role in society. At the same time, the sector is facing intense internal critique around its apparent inability to challenge power structures, which hold voluntary organisations back as spaces for true diversity and inclusion, revealed by campaigns such as #aidtoo and #charitysowhite.


This conference invites participants to explore these issues. Each year, the Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference - organised by the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and the National Council of Voluntary Organisations (NCVO) - provides a unique opportunity for academics, policy makers and practitioners from the UK and further afield to come together to share findings and discuss the implications of research for the sector's future as a site of social leadership and social justice. This year we are delighted to also be collaborating with Aston Business School as our hosts, and BVSC who will help to ensure the conference is relevant for both academics and practitioners.


Our 'Conference Track' invites contributions focused on how civil society is offering leadership, innovation, and agency in redefining how it responds to challenges, and how the voluntary sector and volunteering can challenge the inequality that currently shapes them. These could include, for example: local voluntary sectors as spaces of place leadership; inequalities in volunteering participation, charity trusteeship and workforce; the presence of and challenges to racism, sexism, classism and other inequalities; the changing relationship to public service delivery and partnership with other sectors; the sector as social pioneer and innovator; and many others.


Aims and streams

The conference aims to:

·         Contribute to evidence and theory-building in the field

·         Develop emerging research ideas

·         Inform and be informed by the work of practitioners

·         Inform and influence policy

We welcome submissions for individual papers, panel sessions and workshops. We are particularly keen to receive proposals for the Conference Track that address external and internal challenges, but we do also welcome papers that address a range of issues relevant to volunteering and the voluntary sector, aligned to the following streams:

1. The Conference Track - Leading and changing in critical times

2. Democracy and grassroots voluntary action

3. Diversity, race, (in)equality and inclusion

4. Volunteering, participation and social action

5. Advances in theory and methods

6. Resources, including funding, fundraising, philanthropy, social enterprise and social investment

7. Organisational management and governance, including law and regulation

8. Historical perspectives on civil society, the voluntary sector and volunteering

9. Civil society at the boundaries: relationships with the state and/or private sector

10. Measuring civil society: outcomes, impact and social value

11. New Researchers stream


Submitting an abstract

You can find out how to submit your proposal here. When submitting abstracts, authors will be asked which streams they feel their paper will fit best within. We welcome contributions from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, geography, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. Submissions are encouraged from across the UK, and indeed from around the world, particularly those that offer international comparative perspectives. You don’t need to present a paper to attend.


New researchers

The Conference is an ideal opportunity for new or early career researcher looking to meet, discuss and present their research with other new researchers in a supportive setting. A special series of parallel sessions will be run as part of the conference for ‘new’ researchers. Attendance at this part of the conference is subsidised, and is intended for all early career researchers in the field of voluntary sector studies, whether postgraduate students or working/volunteering in the voluntary sector. For more details about how the New Researchers session works, please click here


Best paper prizes

Campbell Adamson Memorial Prize

Presenters who submit a full paper by the 10th August deadline will automatically be considered for the Campbell Adamson Memorial Prize for best paper, which includes a £500 prize.

New Researchers Prize

Participants in the New Researchers sessions who submit a full paper prior to the start of the conference will automatically be considered for the New Researchers Prize for best paper, which includes a £100 prize.

Voluntary Sector Review Best Article Prize

The conference will also see the inaugural Voluntary Sector Review Best Article Prize awarded, with the authors of the winning article receiving a voucher from the publisher Policy Press and a year's free subscription to the journal.


Plenary sessions

Alongside the paper sessions and workshops, the programme will include plenary sessions at the start and finish of both days. Alongside an exciting line up of soon-to-be announced keynote presentations, these will include roundtable sessions were participants will have the opportunity to meet and share ideas with new and experienced researchers in their field, developing social and professional networks and agendas for future research and practice.


The conference will also feature an exhibition, highlighting the latest publications, events and activities associated with voluntary sector and volunteering research.


Want to find out more?

Booking for the conference will open shortly. In the meantime you can email us for more information or visit the VSSN website for more details

Contact Us

International Society for Third-Sector Research
5801 Smith Avenue
McAuley Hall, Suite 245
Baltimore, MD 21209

Tel:   410-735-4221
Fax:   410-735-4201

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