A sociological analysis of who volunteers are, and why they volunteer in sport and non-sport organisations
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AbstractThe aim of this study was to explore, from a figurational perspective, 1) the similarities and differences between individuals who volunteer in a sporting environment and those that volunteer in other volunteering environments, and 2) the shared and distinct issues that might exist within each area of the voluntary sector. There is a reasonable amount of literature on volunteering generally, including some from a sociological perspective; however, there is much less available concerning volunteering in a sporting context. Furthermore, voluntary Sports Organisations are a substantial provider of services and opportunities for participation and central government include goals of increasing sport participation through them (Game Plan, 2002). The study was based in the county of Flintshire in North Wales. Using a combination of research approaches both questionnaires and interviews were used. The questionnaires aimed to produce demographic information about both sports and non-sports volunteers. For the most part, both groups of volunteers were above the age of 45 and well educated. Sports volunteers were more likely to be employed in full time roles. Non-sports volunteers were more likely to be female, where as sports volunteers were more likely to be male. Individuals from both groups were likely to undertake more than one role for their organisation. The purpose of conducting interviews was to provide a more in depth analysis of the views and perceptions of volunteers themselves, that is, what it is that they do and think about volunteering. For non-sports volunteers, their primary motivation was helping others, although when explored more closely, this was also aligned to the satisfaction gained from helping others often coupled with a number of other internal functions, such as, the socialising aspects and gaining a sense of purpose. For sports volunteers their motivation was very much aligned with their love of sport itself. This study found that for the sports volunteers interviewed, their voluntary activity was a way of them engaging with their sports. For some it was a necessary function in order to keep the club they played for going, for others it was a way of maintaining their connection with the sport. Non-sports volunteers made a proactive choice to volunteer where as, for the most part sports volunteers gradually became involved in the running of the organisation as a consequence of their membership. Both groups considered frustrations with their voluntary activity, for the most part non-sports volunteers discuss fund raising and bureaucracy. Sports volunteers frustrations were around a lack of commitment from others and difficulty in recruiting new members as well as funding. I have argued that it is the networks of figurations in which individuals are involved that influences behaviour. These networks have both constraining and enabling elements that either support or limit volunteering behaviour. Further, these networks influence the types of activity one in which one engages. The conclusions from this study have implications for both the methodology and future research questions. What is clear is that there is much more research to be undertaken reflecting on volunteering in sport and from a sociological perspective.
PublisherUniversity of Chester
TypeThesis or dissertation
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