This chapter discusses the concept of volunteering and links it to Victor Turner's notion of experience. The concept of volunteering surpasses the forms of humanitarian practice such as financial donation and professional aid work, and contrasts the productive realm of wage work. It enters into an arena of free action that is not coerced and selfless; thus allowing itself to be constituted as an “experience.” Some people seek out volunteer experiences, while others try to encourage people to volunteer. The bounded experience of volunteering brings the volunteer closer to the afflicted, the poor, the suffering, and the needy. Victor Turner notes that the experience of volunteering is triggered by “expression, or communication with others”—one that may seem structurally similar to a religious experience but different from spiritual transformation in its category as a secular practice.
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