Neighbours as keepers: Informal volunteering in Ghanaian society

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University of Ghana


The article discusses who is volunteering and what they are doing at the household level in Ghana. By all indications traditions of informal volunteerism continue to survive throughout the country, though this mode of volunteering has been overlooked by researchers. This is partly because Western conceptions of organized volunteerism do not capture adequately the dynamics of informal volunteering. The article is based on data drawn from the baseline of a panel household survey on living conditions in Ghana, conducted in 2010 on 5009 households. Descriptive statistics confirm that about 30% of the sample of 18,889 household members who were interviewed often volunteered to help others. Volunteering rates are higher among better educated and working men and women. But nearly all of them practice what is described as informal affinity-based volunteering, rather than unobligated civic volunteering. Given that Western research and publication on volunteering offers little insight into the persistence of informal volunteering outside industrialized societies, the study on Ghana brings vital contributions to knowledge in this field


School of social sciences colloquium


household, researchers, Volunteering, Western research