From pillarized active membership to populist active citizenship: The Dutch do democracy

Paul Dekker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)
99 Downloads (Pure)


This contribution about the Netherlands to the special issue [or: section] on volunteering and civic action focuses on changes in public understanding and policy perspectives. Developments since the second half of the nineteenth century show shifting emphases on active membership (based on associational life and typical of the phenomenon of pillarization'), active citizenship (based more on an individual sense of responsibility and more or less political in nature) and unpaid work (volunteering as a gift to society and other people). Government policy over the last two decades has focused heavily on reponsibilization' of citizens, both as regards providing help to others when they need it (unpaid work/informal care) and in terms of their relationship with the society in which they live (active citizenship). We expand further on the recent notion of the do-democracy' as a populist and anti-political way of doing things together on a small scale instead of engaging in democratic controversies and trying to get a grip on big issues.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-85
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2019


  • Netherlands
  • Active citizenship
  • Volunteering
  • Do-democracy
  • Responsibilization
  • Populism


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