Advertisement

Volunteering for Human Service Provisions: Lessons from Italy and the U.S.A.

  • Ugo Ascoli
  • Ram A. Cnaan
Article

Abstract

The increased reliance on volunteers in all industrialized democracies has been parallelled by growing fiscal crises in most states, widespread criticism of welfare, and increased demand for social services. While volunteer work is presumed to be an alternative to public services, its feasibility is not yet clear. We suggest that a cross-national comparison of two significantly different countries would provide more information about volunteerism as a partial substitute for public services. We compared the United States where volunteerism is a widespread tradition and Italy where there has been a “rediscovery” of volunteerism since the 1980s.

Differences between the two countries in the practice of volunteerism are examined from several perspectives. They include the relationships between volunteers and the statutory sector, the professionalization of volunteer activity, the role of citizen participation in a capitalistic society, and the Lockean principle of limited government. Finally, we conclude that while there are many differences in welfare provision between the United States and Italy, they do have a common element: increased reliance on volunteers for every aspect of day-to-day life; however, this reliance is mostly ideologically-based and may prove unfounded and costly.

volunteers cross-national comparison welfare state voluntary activity citizen participation Italy the United States 

REFERENCES

  1. Adams, D. S.: 1987, ‘Ronald Reagan's “revival”: Voluntarism as a theme in Reagan's civic religion’, Sociological Analysis 48, pp. 17–29.Google Scholar
  2. Ascoli, U.: 1988a, ‘Azione volontaria e servizi socio-assistenziali: Uno studio dell'area anconetana’, Prisma 12 (December), pp. 47–54.Google Scholar
  3. Ascoli, U.: 1988b, ‘The Italian welfare system in the 1980s: Less state and more market?’, in R. Morris (ed.), Testing the Limits of Social Welfare: International Perspectives on Policy Changes in Nine Countries (Hanover, NH: University Press of New England, Hanover, NH), pp. 165–192.Google Scholar
  4. Ascoli, U.: 1992. ‘Towards a partnership between statutory sector and voluntary action? Italian welfare pluralism in the 90's’, in S. Kuhnle and P. Selle (eds.), Government and Voluntary Organizations (Avebury, Aldershot, UK), pp. 136–156.Google Scholar
  5. Ascoli, U.: 1994, Il volontariato in alcune citta' delle Marche (Istituto di Storia Economica e Sociologia, Universita' di Ancona).Google Scholar
  6. Baldock, C. V.: 1983, ‘Volunteer work as work: Some theoretical considerations’, in C. V. Baldock and R. Cass (eds.), Women, Social Welfare, and the State in Australia (George Allen & Unwin, Boston), pp. 279–297).Google Scholar
  7. Bianchi, M. and P. Ceresa: 1985, Il volontariato nella provincia di Trento. (Quaderni di Lavoro della Provinicia autonoma di Trento, Trento).Google Scholar
  8. Bojar, K.: 1989, ‘Broadening community service to include low-income students’, Change (September/October), pp. 22–23.Google Scholar
  9. Booz, Allen and Hamilton, Inc.: 1985, Action on National Retired Senior Volunteer Program Participant Impact Evaluation (ACTION, Washington, DC).Google Scholar
  10. Borzaga, C.: 1993, ‘The Italian nonprofit sector: An overview of an undervalued reality’, in A. Ben-Ner and B. Gui (eds.), The Nonprofit Sector in the Mixed Economy (The University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, MI), pp. 205–219.Google Scholar
  11. Bowles, E.: 1976, ‘Older persons as providers of services: Three federal programs’, in F. Riessman (ed.), Older Persons: Unused Resources for Unmet Needs (Sage, Beverly Hills, CA), pp. 114–127.Google Scholar
  12. Brudney, J. L.: 1989, ‘The use of volunteers by local governments as an approach to fiscal stress’, Research in Urban Policy 3, pp. 109–121.Google Scholar
  13. Brudney, J. L.: 1990, Fostering Volunteer Programs in the Public Sector (Jossey Bass, San Francisco).Google Scholar
  14. Burke D. M. and M. Hall: 1986, ‘Personality characteristics of volunteers in a companion for children program’, Psychological Reports 59, pp. 819–825.Google Scholar
  15. Cahn, E. S.: 1990, The Time Dollar (Essential Information, Washington, DC).Google Scholar
  16. Chambre, S. M.: 1987, Good Deeds in Old Age (D.C. Health, Lexington, MA).Google Scholar
  17. Chambre S. M.: 1991, ‘Volunteers as witnesses: perspectives on AIDS volunteers in New York City’, Social Service Review 65, pp. 531–547.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Cnaan, R. A.: 1990, ‘Deployment of volunteers by governmental social services in Israel’, Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare 17(3), pp. 150–173.Google Scholar
  19. Cnaan, R. A.: 1996, ‘Empowerment under capitalism: The case of the United States’, in P. Parsloe (ed.), Pathways to Empowerment (Vintage Press, Birmingham, UK), pp. 27–39.Google Scholar
  20. Cnaan, R. A. and L. M. Amrofell: 1994, ‘Mapping volunteer activity’, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 23, pp. 335–351.Google Scholar
  21. Cnaan, R. A. and J. Cwikel: 1992, ‘Elderly volunteers: Assessing their potential as an untapped resource’, Journal of Aging and Social Policy 4(1-2), pp. 125–147.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Cnaan, R. A. and R. S. Goldberg-Glen: 1991, ‘Measuring motivation to volunteer in human services’, Journal of Applied Behavioral Sciences 27(3), pp. 269–284.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Cnaan, R. A., F. Handy and M. Wadsworth: 1996, ‘Public perception of who is a volunteer’, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 24, pp. 364–383.Google Scholar
  24. Comune di Modena: 1987, Modena e il volontariato (F. Angeli, Milan).Google Scholar
  25. Cooley, E. A., G. H. Singer and L. K. Irvin: 1989, ‘Volunteers as part of family support services for families of developmentally disabled members’, Education and Training in Mental Retardation 24, pp. 207–218.Google Scholar
  26. Duncombe, S.: 1985, ‘Volunteers in city government: Advantages, disadvantages, and uses’, National Civic Review 79, pp. 356–364.Google Scholar
  27. Ellis, S. J. and K. H. Noyes: 1990, By the People (Jossey-Bass, San Francisco).Google Scholar
  28. Ellis, S. J., A. Weisbord and K. H. Noyes: 1991, Children as Volunteers: Preparing for Community Service (revised ed.) (Energize, Philadelphia).Google Scholar
  29. Fischer, L. R., M. D. Mueller and P. W. Cooper: 1991, ‘Older volunteers: A discussion of the Minnesota senior study’, The Gerontologist 31, pp. 183–194.Google Scholar
  30. Frisch, M. B. and M. Gerrard: 1981, ‘Natural helping systems: A survey of Red Cross volunteers’, American Journal of Community Psychology 9, pp. 567–579.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Forward, D.: 1994, Heros After Hours: Extraordinary Acts of Employee Volunteerism (Jossey Bass, San Francisco).Google Scholar
  32. Hayghe, H. V.: 1991. ‘Volunteers in the U.S.: Who donates time?’, Monthly Labor Review 114(2), pp. 17–23.Google Scholar
  33. Hodgkinson, V. A., H. A. Gorski, S. M. Noga and E. B. Knauft: 1995, Trends in Giving and Volunteering by Type of Charity (Vol. 2). (Independent Sector, Washington, DC).Google Scholar
  34. Hodgkinson, V. A. and M. S. Weitzman: 1992, Giving and Volunteering in the United States (Independent Sector, Washington, DC).Google Scholar
  35. IREF: 1993, 4° Rapporto sull'associazionismo sociale (Cens: Milan).Google Scholar
  36. IREF: 1995, 5° Rapporto sull'associazionismo sociale (Editoriale Aesse S.r.1., Roma).Google Scholar
  37. Karl, B. D.: 1984, ‘Lo, the poor volunteer: An essay on the relation between history and myth’. Social Service Review 58, pp. 493–522.Google Scholar
  38. Lammers, J. C.: 1991, ‘Attitudes, motives, and demographic predictors of volunteer commitment and service duration’, Journal of Social Service Research 14(3/4), pp. 125–140.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Lemon, M., B. J. Paisleys and P. E. Jacobson: 1972, ‘Dominant statuses and involvement in formal voluntary associations’, Journal of Voluntary Action Research 1(2), pp. 30–42.Google Scholar
  40. Metzendorf, D. and R. A. Cnaan: 1992, ‘Volunteers in feminist organizations’, Nonprofit Management & Leadership 2, pp. 255–269.Google Scholar
  41. Mizenko, W. M. and L. A. Smith: 1991, The Significance of Volunteering (Energize, Philadelphia).Google Scholar
  42. Morrow-Howell, N.: 1989, The Service Credit Exchange: Service Insurance for Older Adults. Paper presented at the 42nd Annual Scientific Meeting of the Gerontological Society of America, Minneapolis, MN. November.Google Scholar
  43. Naylor, H. H.: 1985, ‘Beyond managing volunteers’, Journal of Voluntary Action Research 14(2-3), pp. 25–30.Google Scholar
  44. Newman, S., J. Vasudev and R. Onawola: 1985, ‘Older volunteers' perceptions of impacts of volunteering on their psychological well-being’. Journal of Applied Gerontology 4(2), pp. 123–127.Google Scholar
  45. Ozawa, M. N. and N. Morrow-Howell: 1988, "services provided by elderly volunteers: An empirical study’, Journal of Gerontological Social Work 13(1-2), pp. 65–80.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Pasquinelli, S.: 1993. ‘Italy: Toward an unplanned partnership’, in R. M. Kramer, H. Lorentzen, W. B. Melief and S. Pasquinelli (eds.), Privatization in Four European Countries (M. E. Sharpe, Armonk, NY), pp. 48–66.Google Scholar
  47. Pearce, J. L.: 1983, ‘Job attitude and motivation differences between volunteers and employees from comparable organizations’, Journal of Applied Psychology 68, pp. 385–394.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  48. Perlmutter, F. D.: 1996, Women & Social Change: Nonprofits and Social Policy (National Association of Social Workers, Washington, DC).Google Scholar
  49. Perlmutter, T.: 1991, ‘Italy: Why no voluntary sector?’, in R. Wuthnow (ed.), Between States and Markets: The Voluntary Sector in Comparative Perspective (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ), pp. 157–188.Google Scholar
  50. Putnam, R. D.: 1993, Making Democracy Work: Civic Traditions in Modern Italy (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ).Google Scholar
  51. Qureshi, H., D. Challis and B. Davies: 1989, Helpers in Case-Managed Community Care (Gower, Aldershot, The Netherlands).Google Scholar
  52. Ranci, C.: 1985, Volontariato, bisogni, servizi (F. Angeli, Milan).Google Scholar
  53. Ranci, C., U. De Ambrogio and S. Pasquinelli: 1991, Identita' e servizio il volontariato nella crisi del welfare (il Mulino, Bologna).Google Scholar
  54. Rossi, G. and I. Colozzi: 1985, ‘ItIl volontariato in Italia: Alcuni dati dalla prima ricerca nazionale sui gruppi di volontariato’, in P. Donati (ed.), Le frontiere della politica sociale (F. Angeli, Milan), pp. 282–317.Google Scholar
  55. Redfering, D. L. and F. Biasco: 1982, ‘Volunteering for college credit’, College Student Journal 16, pp. 121–123.Google Scholar
  56. Salamon, L. M.: 1993, ‘The marketization of welfare: Changing nonprofit and profit roles’, Social Service Review 67, pp. 16–40.Google Scholar
  57. Salamon, L. M.: 1995, Partners in Public Service: Government-Nonprofit Relations in the Modern Welfare State (The Johns Hopkins University Press, Baltimore, MD).Google Scholar
  58. Schervish, P. G. and J. J. Havens: 1994, Social Participation and Charitable Giving: A Multivariate Analysis. A paper presented at the annual meeting of the Association of Researchers on Nonprofit Organizations and Voluntary Action, Berkeley, CA. October.Google Scholar
  59. Schilling, R. F., S. P. Schinke and R. A. Weatherly: 1988, ‘Service trends in a conservative era: Social workers rediscover the past’, Social Work 33, pp. 5–9.Google Scholar
  60. Scortegagna, R.: 1985, Il ruolo del volontariato nell' assistenza deglianziani (Marsilio, Venezia).Google Scholar
  61. Seguin, M. M. and R. O'Brien: 1976, Releasing the Potential of Older Volunteers (University of Southern California, Los Angeles, CA).Google Scholar
  62. Smith, D. H.: 1982, ‘Altruism, volunteers, and volunteerism’, in J. D. Harmann (ed.), Volunteerism in the Eighties (University Press of America, Lanham, MD) pp. 23–44.Google Scholar
  63. Smith, D. H.: 1994, ‘Determinants of voluntary association participation and volunteering: A literature review’, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 23, pp. 243–263.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  64. Smith, N. H. and G. T. Berns: 1981, ‘Results of a national survey of recruitment and motivation techniques’, Volunteer Administration XIV(2), pp. 1–4.Google Scholar
  65. Stehle, V.: July 27, 1995, ‘European volunteerism trails U.S.’, The Chronicle of Philanthropy, pp. 14–15.Google Scholar
  66. Stubblefield, H.W. and L. Miles: 1986, ‘Administration of volunteer programs as a career: What role for higher education?’, Journal of Voluntary Action Research 15(4), pp. 4–12.Google Scholar
  67. Sundeen, R. A.: 1988, ‘Explaining participation in coproduction: A study of volunteers’, Social Science Quarterly 69, pp. 547–568.Google Scholar
  68. Sundeen, R. A.: 1990, ‘Family life course status and volunteer behavior: Implications for the single parent’, Sociological Perspectives 33, pp. 483–500.Google Scholar
  69. Thornton, P.: 1991, ‘Subject to contract? Volunteers as providers of community care for the elderly people and their supporters’, Journal of Aging Studies 5, pp. 181–194.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  70. Tomeh, A. K.: 1973, ‘Formal voluntary organizations: Participation, correlates, and inter-relationships’, Sociological Inquiry 43, pp. 89–122.Google Scholar
  71. Vellekoop-Baldock, C.: 1990, Volunteers in Welfare (Allen & Unwin, Sydney, Australia).Google Scholar
  72. Weisbrod, B. and E. Mauser: 1990, Tax Policy Toward Nonprofit Organizations: An Eleven Country Survey. Working paper, Center for Urban Affairs and Policy Research, Northwestern University.Google Scholar
  73. Volunteer Centre, U.K.: 1994, A New Civic Europe? A Study of the Extent and Role of Volunteering (Author, London, U.K.).Google Scholar
  74. Wineburg, R. J.: 1996, ‘An investigation of religious support of public and private agencies in one community in an era of retrenchment’, Journal of Community Practice 3(2), pp. 35–55.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  75. Wuthnow, R.: 1991, Acts of Compassion: Caring for Others and Helping Ourselves (Princeton University Press, Princeton, NJ).Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ugo Ascoli
    • 1
  • Ram A. Cnaan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Social WorkUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia

Personalised recommendations