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This paper explores the past, present, and future role of voluntarism in America, as well as answer the questions of who volunteers and why.
From the Paper:"The subject of voluntarism in America has been a favorite of social scientists for almost as long as there has been an America. In the 1830’s, following an extended visit to the newly formed country, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville remarked: Americans of all ages, all conditions, and all dispositions constantly form associations. They have not only commercial and manufacturing companies, in which all take part, but associations of a thousand other kinds, religious, moral, serious, futile, general or restricted, enormous or diminutive. The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools. If it is proposed to inculcate some truth or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society. Wherever at the head of some great undertaking you see the government in France, or man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association (Hawks, 4).
Echoing Tocqueville’s sentiments, James Bryce of Britain said in 1890:
Associations are created, extended, and worked in the United States more… effectively than in any other country (Skocpol, Ganz, & Munson, 528).
"Even today, voluntarism in America continues to be a major topic of study for sociologists. The body of research literature covers a variety of broad topics. Some researchers have chosen to focus on the macro-level, creating comparative studies of voluntarism worldwide. Other studies attempt to assess the impact of voluntarism at the local and national levels, focusing on the impact of voluntarism on community, democracy, and economics. Some research focuses on defining and analyzing the volunteers themselves: what defines the “prototypical volunteer”, which spiritual and socioeconomic factors influence them, which personality traits are common to volunteers, and how voluntary services impacts their lives. These are all topics of major importance as the voluntary organizations’ role in the community evolves over time. Originally created to meet the social needs that the government was not organized to provide, volunteer organizations today occupy the supporting role to the government’s administration of welfare. Like most things, however, the pendulum is swinging back again. As more and more Americans decry “Big Government”, “Big Government” is responding with such platitudes as “a thousand points of light” to encourage Americans to get back into the business of caring for one another. A call to voluntarism sounds like a good thing on the surface, but it raises more questions than answers for sociologists. This report will attempt to explore the past, present, and future role of voluntarism in America, as well as answer the questions of who volunteers and why."
Cite this Research Paper:
Helping Hands (2002, May 20) Retrieved August 20, 2019, from https://www.academon.com/research-paper/helping-hands-4577/
"Helping Hands" 20 May 2002. Web. 20 August. 2019. <https://www.academon.com/research-paper/helping-hands-4577/>