Young people and volunteering, attitudes and experiences in areas of multiple deprivation

  • James Davies

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


In the run-up to the Year of Young People 2018, youth volunteering was cast in the political limelight following the Scottish Government's intention to 're-invigorate volunteering'. Yet, despite higher levels of youth than adult volunteering, young people's engagement is unequally structured by gender and area-based deprivation. Although there is a significant literature on youth volunteering, comparatively little is known about under-16s and how opportunities for volunteering are shaped by lived experiences in areas of multiple deprivation.;This thesis addresses this gap by examining attitudes towards volunteering, routes and barriers to participation as well as the meanings volunteering acquires for those who do it.;The thesis draws on qualitative fieldwork with male and female volunteers and non volunteers, aged 12-18, and with youth workers in local government and youth organisations. Different perspectives on volunteering are used to frame the ways in which participants approached volunteering. Bourdieu's theory of practice isemployed to explore the relationship between objective conditions and subjective dispositions and their implications for facilitating and impeding volunteering. The concepts of 'bonding' and 'bridging social capital' are also used to understand the nature of participants' relationships and their impact on volunteering.;Findings indicate participants had broadly positive views of volunteering. However, there was widespread belief that it was considered a stigmatised activity due to its perceived incompatibility with peer norms. This stigma was also associated with the lack of information participants received about volunteering, as well as infrastructural issues limiting the support available to them. The notion of the 'participant-to-volunteer' transition is proposed to capture the way in which many participants started volunteering.;This idea reflects the histories volunteers had as attendees at youth organisations prior to volunteering in them. Such foundations provided a base from which calls to volunteer could be responded to positively. Aspects of 'traditional' and 'new' approaches to volunteerism were evident inparticipants' motivations. However, volunteering was predominantly valued for its relational and affective aspects, the sense of agency it provided and the opportunities it facilitated for personal development.
Date of Award7 Jun 2018
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
  • University Of Strathclyde
SupervisorDaniela Sime (Supervisor) & Bernard Harris (Supervisor)

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