Overbearing State and Stubborn Civil Society?

Opusculum 82 | 01.05.2015 | German International Volunteer Service Programmes between Subsidiarity and Accountability


The starting point of our contribution is an observation regarding different international volunteer service programmes which are all funded by the German federal government: Whilst the NGOs’ continuous call for public funding has finally been addressed, the same organizations are now increasingly concerned about a seemingly overbearing state. Hence, new questions regarding the relationship between civil society and the state emerge and have triggered a controversial debate. Yet, apart from very few exceptions (Jakob 2011; and for the context of a national volunteer programme: Strachwitz 2011), this debate lacks sound empirical analysis and, even more, theoretical foundation. We catch up on this debate and address it in two steps. First, we present a couple of theoretical approaches to analyse the situation. Second, we take a close empirical look at different state funded international volunteer programmes.1

1 We are grateful to Claudio Jax, Anna Veigel, Karin Schulz, Andreas Kluenter, Arne Bonhage and David Schaefer for their helpful comments, especially on the empirical section.