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Title: Control, identity and meaning in voluntary work : the case of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution
Author: O'Toole, Michelle
Awarding Body: University of Warwick
Current Institution: University of Warwick
Date of Award: 2013
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Organization studies, including studies of control and identity, has to date been almost exclusively concerned with organizations where work is paid for. By contrast, this thesis considers the dynamics of control and identity when work is unpaid, through the presentation of a qualitative case study of the Royal National Lifeboat Institution. This organization relies mainly on volunteers operating in a dangerous working environment to fulfil their mission of saving lives at sea. By considering unpaid voluntary work, the thesis deepens understandings of the relationship between control, autonomy and organizational meaning and identity. There are four main themes of analysis: thick volunteering, perilous volunteering, community and offshore operations. I propose thick volunteering as a form of volunteering from which a significant sense of identity may be derived. Perilous volunteering is theorized to denote volunteering activities whereby the volunteer chooses to engage in dangerous activity which may result in serious harm up to and including loss of life. Thick and perilous volunteering together are shown to have complex effects upon the dynamic of control within the organization. The theme of community shows how volunteering is embedded in a web of social relations, rather than simply being a matter of individual choice, and these relations significantly affect meaning and identity. The 'offshore' theme demonstrates how control, meaning and identity play out differently when the volunteers are on operational duty. Overall, the thesis contributes to the theory of volunteering as well as to more general debates about organizational control, identity and meaning.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: University of Warwick
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: HD Industries. Land use. Labor