Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2013

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)



First Advisor

Elizabeth Dunn

Second Advisor

John O'Loughlin

Third Advisor

Joe Bryan


This work seeks to answer three questions: 1) Why are measured levels of voluntarism in Ukraine significantly below those of relevant comparative settings? 2) What factors guide Ukrainians on whether or not to volunteer? 3) How are internationally framed expectations of voluntarism and civil society fulfilled or transformed on the regional and local scales in Ukraine? Contrary to previous related work, an open-ended ethnographic methodology opens new avenues of inquiry and reduces selective bias. The work reveals that voluntarism is hampered by a legal structure that dissuades nongovernmental organizations from pursuing volunteer-attractive projects. Furthermore, voluntary actions instead appear focused in practices that are poorly tracked in relevant metrics, such as participation in unregistered social movements. Conclusions include a need for a broader, more flexible definition of voluntarism than used in previous work, and the importance of the production and presentation of scale in influencing voluntarism and nongovernmental funding in Ukraine.