2017 Voluntary sector and volunteering research conference

Location: Nottingham Conference Centre, Nottingham

2 May 2017 Deadline for submissions
5 July 2017 Early bird discount ends
7-8 September 2017 Conference

Call for papers

We are living through turbulent times. The past year has seen significant social and political upheaval, within the UK and internationally. This comes at a time when the voluntary sector and wider civil society were already dealing with a complex series of challenges, such as public sector austerity, rising inequality, and an apparent diminishing of political support for their independence. This context inevitably presents both opportunities and challenges for the sector.

In such uncertain times high quality research and analysis are needed more than ever to help address some key topical issues facing the voluntary sector and volunteering, and their contributions to public life.

For example:

  • how is the sector, and civil society more generally, affected by and responding to ongoing austerity and public service reform?
  • how can it meet the challenges of increasing inequality and multiple disadvantage?
  • how can it assert itself as an independent advocate of society's most vulnerable groups?
  • what is the role of volunteering and social action, and how is this changing?
  • what are the implications of Brexit and the rise of populist politics for its work, and how is the sector and civil society responding?

The Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference – organised by NCVO, the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) – provides a unique opportunity for academics, new researchers, policy makers and practitioners from the UK and further afield to come together to share and discuss research that addresses these questions and the broader issues facing the sector.

How to submit your proposal

You don’t need to present a paper to attend. Bookings are not yet open for the 2017 conference but you can register your interest here.

See the full guidelines and submit your proposal

Aims and themes

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 both individual papers and themed panel or workshop sessions. They could address any issue relevant to volunteering and the voluntary sector. This year we are particularly keen to receive papers informed by the key topics listed here.

This year, we are particularly interested in proposals that relate to one or more of the following themes:

  • civil society, democracy and grassroots voluntary action
  • volunteering, participation and social action
  • sectoral boundaries: private-voluntary-public sector relations
  • funding, fundraising and philanthropy
  • organisational management and governance, including regulation and charity law
  • historical perspectives on the voluntary sector and voluntary action
  • advances in theory and methods.

When submitting abstracts, authors will be asked which – if any – of the issues or themes they feel their paper will fit best within.

We welcome contributions from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics.

Campbell Adamson Memorial Prize

Presenters who submit a full paper by the deadline of 30 July will automatically be in with a chance of winning the Campbell Adamson Memorial prize for best paper, which includes a £500 prize.

New researchers

The conference is an ideal opportunity for new or early career researchers 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 they are postgraduate students or working/volunteering in the voluntary sector.

Find out more about the new researchers sessions and how to submit your proposal.

Want to find out more?

Should you have any queries on the 2017 Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research conference please This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. us.


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