Volunteering as Protest

Against State Failure or the State Itself?

in Volume 4 (2016): Issue 1-2 (Jun 2016): Civil Society and Uncivil Times. Guest Editor: Brian Callan

Although the Czech Republic (CR) is not a favorite destination nor even a transit country for migrants through Europe, the refugee crisis has materialized into a strict state policy of rejection. The CR rejects proposals for European solutions and detains and imprisons immigrants, most of whom are inadvertently arrived there. This preliminary refusal strategy is peculiar to both the political and media spheres (and public opinion) and is described in the opening sections of this work. However, the CR, is also a country in which the tally of immigrants is less than the number of Czechs citizens traveling beyond their national borders to help refugees congregating along the “Balkan Route”, where they frequently outnumber volunteers from other countries. This paper goes on to describe the development of these grassroots Czech volunteer organizations and activities in 2015. From the beginning it was characterized by spontaneity and a lack of hierarchy, with the Internet and social media playing a vital role during mobilization and organization. The methodological section defines how this sample was analyzed and the manner in which it was dealt. Section five summarizes the most important findings of the case study: (1) the results of a questionnaire survey among volunteers, (2) the results of a qualitative content analysis of their communication in social networks. Besides basic mapping steps (features of volunteer’s participation), the analysis attempts to capture motivations for volunteer’s participation. Comparison with selected motivation typologies emphasizes the protective (later the normative) motivation, on which the hypotheses are based regarding the dispute about the national identity of volunteering as an ideological, and therefore foreseeable, dispute.

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