Determinants of Voluntary Association Participation and Volunteering: A Literature Review

  • Smith D
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This article reviews the American literature in social science for the period 1975-1992 on the determinants of volunteer participation in programs and associations. It finds that most studies are too narrow in the hinds of variables that they include and that explanatory power is reduced as a result. Such participation is significantly greater for certain hinds of variables: contextual (for example, smaller community), social background (for example, higher education), personality (for example, more efficacy/internal locus of control), and attitude (for example, more group attractiveness) as well as situational variables (for example, being asked to join). Very few studies combine measures of each type of variable. When several predictor realms arc included, much higher variance is accounted for. Other social participation (political, mass media, recreational, and so on) is associated with volunteer participation. This association confirms a general activity model that posits a clustering of different types of socioculturally approved discretionary activity.

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  • David Horton Smith

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