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Title: A bridge too far? : volunteering, voluntary associations, and social cohesion
Author: Wiertz, Dingeman
ISNI:       0000 0004 6424 4653
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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In this thesis, I seek to advance our knowledge about the factors that make people start and stop volunteer work, thus shedding light on the capacity of volunteering and voluntary associations to foster social cohesion. In particular, my goal is twofold: first, to reveal to what extent voluntary associations function as meeting places for people from different social backgrounds, and second, to assess the resilience of civic participation in the face of labor market experiences that might undermine such engagement. I make three core contributions to the literature on voluntary association involvement. First, I pay special attention to the organizational contexts in which volunteers are embedded. Second, I adopt a dynamic approach, analyzing decisions to start and stop volunteering. Third, I attempt to disentangle alternative mechanisms that could drive the associations observed between volunteering and its potential determinants. Analyzing data from The Netherlands and the United States, my findings expose limits to the integrative capacity of voluntary association involvement. As it turns out, the civic landscape is strongly segregated. People tend to sort into voluntary associations where they mostly meet people with similar characteristics as themselves. Such sorting occurs along multiple social dimensions, including educational attainment, religiosity, gender, and ethnicity. This constrains the opportunities for building relationships that cut across existing social boundaries. Indeed, these sorting processes can reproduce in the civic domain fault lines that dominate other spheres of life. Furthermore, civic engagement and participation in the labor market are shown to be strongly intertwined, with the former breaking down when labor force exits occur. Voluntary association involvement is, therefore, of limited value for drawing labor force outsiders into public life. However, this chain of events does not necessarily unfold, as long as labor force outsiders retain aspirations to participate in social life.
Supervisor: de Graaf, Nan Dirk Sponsor: Economic and Social Research Council ; Prins Bernhard Cultuurfonds
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Voluntarism--United States ; Voluntarism--Netherlands ; Nonprofit organizations