In public life Britain has traditionally followed what might be called 'the cult of the talented amateur', in which being too professionally dedicated is looked at with suspicion. 'Only doing your job' has never been accepted as a justification for actions. There is a common assumption that society is best served by everybody 'chipping in' - that is, by lost of people giving a little bit of their free time to help in a variety of ways. This can be seen in the structure of the civil service. In the circumstances under which Members of Parliament do their work, in the use of unpaid non-lawyers to run much of the legal system, in some aspects of the education system, and in the fact that, until recently, many of the most popular sports in the country were officially amateur even at top level.
This characteristic, however, is on the decline. In all the areas mentioned above, 'professionalism' has changed from having a positive one. Nevertheless, some new areas of amateur participation in public life have developed in the last decade, such as neighbourhood watch schemes. Moreover, tens of thousands of 'amateurs' are still actively involved in charity work. As well as giving direct help to those in need, they raise money by organizing jumble sales, fetes and flag days (on which they stand in the street collecting money). This voluntary activity is a basic part of British life. It has often been so effective that whole countrywide networks have been set up without any government help at all. It is no accident that many of the world's largest and most well-known charities (for example, Oxfam, Amnesty International and the Save the Children Fund) began in Britain. Note also that, each year, the country's blood transfusion service collects over two million donations of blood from unpaid volunteers.
МІНІСТЕРСТВО ОСВІТИ І НАУКИ УКРАЇНИ | Ethnic identity: the native British | What does it mean to be Scottish? | Geographical identity | Men and women | Stereotypes and change | English versus British | Multiculturalism | Conservatism | Being different |