The Labour Movement and Voluntary Action in the UK and Australia: A Comparative Perspective

Justin Davis-Smith, Melanie Oppenheimer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
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Despite the increasing awareness of voluntary action in both countries in recent times, there has been little interest in exploring the historical relationship of voluntary action and labour. It is argued in this paper that the overall silence of the relationship between voluntary action and the labour movement has its origins in the emergence of a 'myth' of Labour hostility towards voluntary action. This 'myth' explains to some degree the invisibility of voluntary action in labour historiography, and misrepresents the labour movement's relationship with voluntary action in the UK and Australia. Rather than being implacably hostile to voluntary action, there has always been a strand within labour thinking in the two countries that has seen voluntary action as an essential complement to the state, and as integral to the building of the modern welfare state.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-120
Number of pages16
JournalLabour History
Issue number88
Publication statusPublished - May 2005


  • Voluntary action
  • Volunteer labour
  • Labour movements
  • Labour history
  • Volunteerism
  • Philanthropy
  • Welfare state
  • Mutual aid
  • Hostility


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