Homo Voluntarius and the Rural Idyll: Voluntary Work, Trust and Solidarity in Rural and Urban Areas

Gunnar Lind Haase Svendsen, Gert Tinggaard Svendsen


Based on Mancur Olson’s and Robert Putnam’s theories, this article discusses whether it is more difficult to recruit volunteers in urban than in rural areas. We use data from the Danish Rural-Urban Barometer (2011/12), which contains 2000 valid responses from urban and rural respondents. We show that, in the case of Denmark, rural dwellers actually do more volunteer work than city dwellers in an environment characterized by relatively more trust and solidarity within the local area. All things being equal, increased urbanisation will therefore in the long run reduce volunteerism and increase the relative number of Homo Oeconomicus at the expense of Homo Voluntarius and the rural idyll.

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The Journal of Rural and Community Development is supported by SSHRC.