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Beyond choice: 'thick' volunteering and the case of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

O'Toole, Michelle; Grey, Christopher

Authors

Michelle O'Toole

Christopher Grey

Abstract

This article problematizes the dominant assumption in the literature on volunteer work that it is undertaken primarily as a matter of individual choice. Using findings from a qualitative study of volunteers at the not-for-profit organization, the Royal National Lifeboat Institution, it is shown that volunteering exists within a dense web of social relations, especially familial and communal relations, so that volunteering is recursively constituted by structure and agency. The concept of 'thick volunteering' is developed to denote how in some cases these social relations, especially when the work involved is dangerous, may make volunteering especially significant.

Journal Article Type Article
Publication Date Jan 1, 2016
Journal Human relations
Print ISSN 0018-7267
Electronic ISSN 1741-282X
Publisher SAGE Publications
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 69
Issue 1
Pages 85-109
Institution Citation O'TOOLE, M. and GREY, C. 2016. Beyond choice: 'thick' volunteering and the case of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. Human relations [online], 69(1), pages 85-109. Available from: https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726715580156
DOI https://doi.org/10.1177/0018726715580156
Keywords Agency; Charities/not-for-profit organisations; Dangerous work; Royal National Lifeboat Institution (RNLI); Structure; Thick volunteering; Volunteering; Volunteerism

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