We examine whether, and under which conditions, volunteering contributes to migrant integration. We identify two main goals of workfare volunteering—empowerment and employability—which build on two distinct images of the ideal citizen: the empowered citizen and the worker-citizen. Life story interviews were held with 46 first- and second-generation migrant women from Turkey, Morocco and Suriname living in the Netherlands. We found that volunteering contributes to employability and empowerment. However, for two mutually reinforcing reasons it eventually disempowers. Firstly, volunteering hardly ever results in paid employment because employers do not recognize volunteering as real work experience. Secondly, the focus on paid employment as ultimate form of integration misrecognizes migrant women as active citizens, which often results in disempowerment. Our findings show that the double policy goals of workfare volunteering require different conditions, and as such striving for both simultaneously often results in failing to achieve the set goals.
- Migrant integration
- Social capital