Definition of voluntarism in English:



mass noun
  • 1The principle of relying on voluntary action (used especially with reference to the involvement of voluntary organizations in social welfare)

    ‘some councils connected the twin themes of public spending cuts and the strong emphasis on voluntarism’
    • ‘They do so because the college community is vigilant about supporting cultures of quality engagement and voluntarism, as described earlier.’
    • ‘‘Yeah, they work harder and have more voluntarism,’ said one senior figure in a large party.’
    • ‘However, the promotion of voluntarism in women's groups has arguably come at a high cost to many women and families in terms of sacrificing time and limited resources and incurring financial commitments.’
    • ‘Although the strategy was flawed by its excessive voluntarism, it did force the party to modernize itself.’
    • ‘He also puts forward a most interesting concept - the return of voluntarism to the healthcare sector.’
    • ‘The tools of voluntarism are friendship, trade, compassion, and love.’
    • ‘More recently, different groups have encouraged a spirit of voluntarism and giving among staff, faculty, and students.’
    • ‘Local voluntarism provided political training for all the nation's people, particularly its soldiers.’
    • ‘For both groups, the highest percentage of voluntarism took place in religious organizations, followed by education and youth development activities.’
    • ‘Instead, they insisted that only Christian-minded voluntarism could protect the weak and ameliorate misery.’
    • ‘Women's groups draw on voluntarism and self-financing to manage a social relationship with inherent demands and limits.’
    • ‘Religious life followed the principle of voluntarism.’
    • ‘Some might call it sort of cultures of voluntarism and self-help, but I think generally from different pieces of work that I have seen there is probably more suspicion about intervention from outside.’
    • ‘Although the NGO sector has become increasingly professionalised over the last two decades, principles of altruism and voluntarism remain key defining characteristics.’
    • ‘For example, on pensions policy, the most often-raised points are about the earnings link, about voluntarism versus compulsion, and safeguards for schemes' members.’
    • ‘The terms of the debate centre on celebrating personal behaviour, community tidiness, local accessibility, micromanagement, voluntarism, neighbourhood activism, and so on.’
    1. 1.1historical (especially in the 19th century) the principle that the Church or schools should be independent of the state and supported by voluntary contributions.
  • 2Philosophy
    The doctrine that the will is a fundamental or dominant factor in the individual or the universe.

    • ‘However, there is at least one crucial distinction between Parsonian voluntarism and Kantian freedom.’
    • ‘His recasting of subjectivity, albeit in nonessentialized terms, still looks back to the voluntarism of Existentialism.’
    • ‘According to doxastic voluntarism, believing and disbelieving are choices that are up to us to make.’
    • ‘Thus he steers between determinism and voluntarism, yet he argued an inevitable historical tendency towards equality.’
    • ‘The idea of voluntarism - of unfettered individual action - which guides so much of market and social behavior also permeates the culture of love.’


Mid 19th century: formed irregularly from voluntary.