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’
    • ‘He also puts forward a most interesting concept - the return of voluntarism to the healthcare sector.’
    • ‘More recently, different groups have encouraged a spirit of voluntarism and giving among staff, faculty, and students.’
    • ‘For example, on pensions policy, the most often-raised points are about the earnings link, about voluntarism versus compulsion, and safeguards for schemes' members.’
    • ‘‘Yeah, they work harder and have more voluntarism,’ said one senior figure in a large party.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘For both groups, the highest percentage of voluntarism took place in religious organizations, followed by education and youth development activities.’
    • ‘The terms of the debate centre on celebrating personal behaviour, community tidiness, local accessibility, micromanagement, voluntarism, neighbourhood activism, and so on.’
    • ‘Although the strategy was flawed by its excessive voluntarism, it did force the party to modernize itself.’
    • ‘Local voluntarism provided political training for all the nation's people, particularly its soldiers.’
    • ‘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.’
    • ‘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 NGO sector has become increasingly professionalised over the last two decades, principles of altruism and voluntarism remain key defining characteristics.’
    • ‘Instead, they insisted that only Christian-minded voluntarism could protect the weak and ameliorate misery.’
    • ‘The tools of voluntarism are friendship, trade, compassion, and love.’
    • ‘They do so because the college community is vigilant about supporting cultures of quality engagement and voluntarism, as described earlier.’
    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.

    • ‘Thus he steers between determinism and voluntarism, yet he argued an inevitable historical tendency towards equality.’
    • ‘According to doxastic voluntarism, believing and disbelieving are choices that are up to us to make.’
    • ‘His recasting of subjectivity, albeit in nonessentialized terms, still looks back to the voluntarism of Existentialism.’
    • ‘However, there is at least one crucial distinction between Parsonian voluntarism and Kantian freedom.’
    • ‘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.