This paper investigates how the 2008–9 recession affected civic participation in disadvantaged and affluent neighbourhoods in the city of Rotterdam. We hypothesize that levels of civic participation may either diverge or converge across neighbourhoods with a different socioeconomic status. We build upon a recent wave of studies examining how civil society has been affected by the 2008–9 recession. Using five waves from the Rotterdam Neighbourhood Profile survey (N = 63,134; 71 neighbourhoods), we find converging trends in civic participation. Between 2008 and 2013, civic participation declined in affluent neighbourhoods but increased slightly in disadvantaged neighbourhoods. This convergence is partly due to the level of perceived problems in the neighbourhood and differences in the types of volunteering found in disadvantaged and affluent neighbourhoods. In addition, we argue that these converging trends can be better understood by considering the neighbourhood organizational infrastructure and local policy configurations. Next to examining the impact of the 2008–9 recession on civic participation, we contribute to research on civil society by comparing the UK and Dutch context.

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Keywords Civil society, neighbourhood research, volunteering, civic participation, economic recession
Persistent URL
Journal British Journal of Sociology
Custers, G.J, Engbersen, G.B.M, & Snel, E. (2019). The economic recession and civic participation: the curious case of Rotterdam's civil society, 2008–2013. British Journal of Sociology. Retrieved from