7th September 2017 - 8th September 2017 (All Day)


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Please note: Call for papers extended to 11am on Monday 8th May

The Voluntary Sector and Volunteering Research Conference – organised by NCVO, the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and the Institute for Volunteering Research (IVR) – is the leading opportunity in the UK for academics, new and early-career researchers, policy makers and practitioners to come together to share and discuss research.

We are living through turbulent times. The past year has seen significant social and political upheaval, within the UK and internationally. This comes at a time when the voluntary sector and wider civil society were already dealing with a complex series of challenges, such as public sector austerity, rising inequality, and an apparent diminishing of political support for their independence. This context inevitably presents both opportunities and challenges for the sector.

In such uncertain times high quality research and analysis are needed more than ever to help address some key topical issues facing the voluntary sector and volunteering, and their contributions to public life.

For example:

  • how is the sector, and civil society more generally, affected by and responding to ongoing austerity and public service reform?
  • how can it meet the challenges of increasing inequality and multiple disadvantage?
  • how can it assert itself as an independent advocate of society’s most vulnerable groups?
  • what is the role of volunteering and social action, and how is this changing?
  • what are the implications of Brexit and the rise of populist politics for its work, and how is the sector and civil society responding?

This annual conference provides a unique opportunity for academics, policy makers and practitioners from the UK and further afield to come together to share and discuss research that addresses these questions and the broader issues facing the sector.


The conference aims to:

  • contribute to evidence and theory-building in the field
  • develop emerging research ideas
  • inform and be informed by the work of practitioners
  • inform and influence policy.

Call for papers

We welcome submissions for both individual papers and themed panel or workshop sessions. They could address any issue relevant to volunteering and the voluntary sector. The deadline for submissions is 11am on 8th May.

More information about how to submit a proposal is available here.

This year, we are particularly interested in proposals that relate to one or more of the following themes:

  • civil society, democracy and grassroots voluntary action
  • volunteering, participation and social action
  • sectoral boundaries: private-voluntary-public sector relations
  • funding, fundraising and philanthropy
  • organisational management and governance, including regulation and charity law
  • historical perspectives on the voluntary sector and voluntary action
  • advances in theory and methods.

When submitting abstracts, authors will be asked which – if any – of the issues or themes they feel their paper will fit best within.

We welcome contributions from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics.

Campbell Adamson Memorial Prize

Presenters who submit a full paper by the deadline of 30 July will automatically be in with a chance of winning the Campbell Adamson Memorial prize for best paper, which includes a £500 prize.

New researchers

The New Researchers Sessions (NRS) run alongside the main conference and are specifically tailored to those who are new to research or new to the voluntary sector. The deadline for abstract submissions for the NRS is 31st May. There is also an opportunity to be considered for the Campbell Adamson Memorial Prize. Visit our New Rearchers Sessions page for further details.

Contact us

Should you have any queries on the conference email researchconference@ncvo.org.uk