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Responding to COVID-19: Community Volunteerism and Coproduction in China

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Qing Miao, Susan Schwarz, Gary Schwarz

Original languageEnglish
Article number105128
JournalWORLD DEVELOPMENT
Volume137
Early online date2020
DOIs
E-pub ahead of print2020
Published1 Aug 2020

King's Authors

Abstract

The COVID-19 pandemic created a critical need for citizen volunteers working with government to protect public health and to augment overwhelmed public services. Our research examines the crucial role of community volunteers and their effective deployment during a crisis. We analyze individual and collaborative service activities based on usage data from 85,699 COVID-19 volunteers gathered through China’s leading digital volunteering platform, as well as a survey conducted among a sample of 2,270 of these COVID-19 volunteers using the platform and interviews with 14 civil society leaders in charge of coordinating service activities. Several results emerge: the value of collaboration among local citizens, civil society including community-based groups, and regional government to fill gaps in public services; the key role of experienced local volunteers, who rapidly shifted to COVID-19 from other causes as the pandemic peaked; and an example of state-led coproduction based on long-term relationships. Our analysis provides insight into the role of volunteerism and coproduction in China's response to the pandemic, laying groundwork for future research. The findings can help support the response to COVID-19 and future crises by more effectively leveraging human capital and technology in community service delivery.

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