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For ever, for everyone? Patterns of volunteering: the case of the National Trust

For ever, for everyone? Patterns of volunteering: the case of the National Trust
For ever, for everyone? Patterns of volunteering: the case of the National Trust
Formal volunteering, through an organisation, is frequently associated with providing benefits to individuals and to communities. However, surveys consistently show that participation in formal volunteering varies by class, ethnicity, age and gender. This research seeks to expand upon existing theories which have identified that participation in formal volunteering is shaped by the possession of human, social and cultural capital, by applying Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capital and field to the study of volunteering in the National Trust. Drawing on over 12,000 responses to a National Trust volunteer survey, and 50 semi-structured interviews with volunteers and paid staff, this research explores the relationship between different types of capital and volunteering.

To date, the perspective that formal volunteering requires the possession of resources or capital has not been integrated with literature which recognises that volunteering can be a form of work or leisure. Interviews reveal that people volunteer for the National Trust as a replacement for the positive aspects of paid work in retirement, as a way of gaining work experience, for pleasure and enjoyment, and as a way of participating in heritage or the countryside. Explanations for the inequality in participation of formal volunteering can be improved by recognising that volunteering is a form of work or leisure, which requires capital to perform, and which produces further capital. While formal volunteering is often promoted as a way to tackle social problems, in practice, the case of the National Trust suggests that volunteering can exacerbate social inequality by enabling those with resources the opportunity to gain more.

This thesis argues that Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capital and field, and the work and leisure perspectives on volunteering, can be applied to extend existing resource explanations and improve understanding of why participation in formal volunteering varies by class, ethnicity, age and gender.
Harflett, Naomi
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Harflett, Naomi
c306cbff-dad8-4f1d-a06e-fb299243e791
Mohan, John
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Roth, Silke
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Harflett, Naomi (2014) For ever, for everyone? Patterns of volunteering: the case of the National Trust. University of Southampton, School of Social Sciences, Doctoral Thesis, 286pp.

Record type: Thesis (Doctoral)

Abstract

Formal volunteering, through an organisation, is frequently associated with providing benefits to individuals and to communities. However, surveys consistently show that participation in formal volunteering varies by class, ethnicity, age and gender. This research seeks to expand upon existing theories which have identified that participation in formal volunteering is shaped by the possession of human, social and cultural capital, by applying Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capital and field to the study of volunteering in the National Trust. Drawing on over 12,000 responses to a National Trust volunteer survey, and 50 semi-structured interviews with volunteers and paid staff, this research explores the relationship between different types of capital and volunteering.

To date, the perspective that formal volunteering requires the possession of resources or capital has not been integrated with literature which recognises that volunteering can be a form of work or leisure. Interviews reveal that people volunteer for the National Trust as a replacement for the positive aspects of paid work in retirement, as a way of gaining work experience, for pleasure and enjoyment, and as a way of participating in heritage or the countryside. Explanations for the inequality in participation of formal volunteering can be improved by recognising that volunteering is a form of work or leisure, which requires capital to perform, and which produces further capital. While formal volunteering is often promoted as a way to tackle social problems, in practice, the case of the National Trust suggests that volunteering can exacerbate social inequality by enabling those with resources the opportunity to gain more.

This thesis argues that Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, capital and field, and the work and leisure perspectives on volunteering, can be applied to extend existing resource explanations and improve understanding of why participation in formal volunteering varies by class, ethnicity, age and gender.

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More information

Published date: August 2014
Organisations: University of Southampton, Sociology, Social Policy & Criminology

Identifiers

Local EPrints ID: 374696
URI: http://eprints.soton.ac.uk/id/eprint/374696
PURE UUID: 105758b5-591a-4cda-a0e2-ac9a8b99e4bb
ORCID for Silke Roth: ORCID iD orcid.org/0000-0002-8760-0505

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Date deposited: 09 Mar 2015 11:46
Last modified: 27 Jan 2020 13:41

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