Digitalization of the Russian Emergency Volunteers’ Activities: a Pandemic Impact or an Independent Development Trend?




volunteering, civic initiatives, crowdsourcing, emergencies, digitalization, COVID-19


The COVID-19 pandemic is unique in that it unfolds amidst widespread development of information and communication technologies. Digitalization resulted in a global communication environment characterized by immeasurably large flows of information, opportunities to use it, impacts on life processes, people’s consciousness and behavior. E-commerce, remote work and e-learning, online services, leisure and entertainment have become a “new normality” of the modern world, as well as the major tools to cope with social and economic crisis, to maintain social communications and interactions between different social groups.

Civil society, including non-profit volunteer organizations, has played a significant role in performing that function and was propelled into a “social experiment” in an era of rapid digitalization amidst pandemic. The article is based on the results of an empirical study and explores the potential and limitations of digital technologies in the activities of emergency volunteers, in particular those related to forest firefighting and rescuing, during the pandemic. Digital mode allowed them to continue educational and outreach activities but did not help in their routine activities on the spot. At the same time, digitalization in volunteering started long ago, and the current crisis merely speeded it up causing new problems such as “digital burnout”.

Acknowledgements. The article is part of the project “Emergency volunteering as a reply to the natural and technological challenges in Russia” supported by the Russian Science Foundation, grant no. 19-78-10052.

Author Biographies

Olga A. Basheva, Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS

  • Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Soc.), Researcher

Polina O. Ermolaeva, Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS

  • Institute of Sociology of FCTAS RAS, Moscow, Russia
    • Cand. Sci. (Soc.), Researcher
  • Kazan (Volga region) Federal University, Kazan, Russia
    • Associate Professor at the Department of General and Ethnic Sociology