Labour History

Voluntary Work and Labour History

Labour History (1998), 74, (1), 1–9.

Abstract

At a meeting of the Sydney Branch of the Australian Society for the Study of Labour History in early February 1997, I presented a paper based on my doctoral thesis which revolved around aspects of voluntary work in Australia during World War II. This thesis focussed on voluntary work, or unpaid work, carried out by people within structured organisations in the public sphere. In the presentation, I argued that not only was this type of voluntary work productive, but that it should be considered an appropriate topic for labour history. I stated that it was now important for labour history to embrace the concept of voluntary work; and offered some views as to why it had taken until now for the discussion to commence. Perhaps not surprisingly the paper sparked considerable vigorous and lively debate. This article is an expanded version of that paper. It is introductory in nature and is designed to offer some preliminary ideas on the topic of voluntary work and labour history, and to initiate discussion and debate.

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Author details

Oppenheimer, Melanie

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