Skip to main content

Do People Who Volunteer Have a Distinctive Ethos?

A Canadian Study

  • Chapter
The Values of Volunteering

Part of the book series: Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies ((NCSS))


In the mid-1940s, Le Chambon was an unremarkable village of 3000 souls in the mountains of south-east France, midway between Geneva and Marseille. During the four years of World War II when much of France was under the control of its German occupiers, a handful of Le Chambon’s residents performed an exceptional act: they secretly sheltered and provided safe passage for nearly five thousand Jews who would otherwise have been rounded up and sent to the camps in Germany and Poland, most to their deaths. The residents of Le Chambon who participated in this sustained act of courage did so at great risk to their own lives and without thought for personal advantage. This historical event prompts for many the question, why did they do it? What was it about these few people, and not the many others around them, and visibily no different from them, that energized such behavior? As Philip Hallie has recounted it in Lest Innocent Blood Be Shed (1979), a significant part of the answer can be found in the particular set of moral precepts and values they held in common as members of a small Protestant church congregation.

This is a preview of subscription content, log in via an institution to check access.

Access this chapter

Subscribe and save

Springer+ Basic
EUR 32.99 /Month
  • Get 10 units per month
  • Download Article/Chapter or eBook
  • 1 Unit = 1 Article or 1 Chapter
  • Cancel anytime
Subscribe now

Buy Now

USD 9.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Available as EPUB and PDF
  • Read on any device
  • Instant download
  • Own it forever
Softcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Compact, lightweight edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info
Hardcover Book
USD 109.99
Price excludes VAT (USA)
  • Durable hardcover edition
  • Dispatched in 3 to 5 business days
  • Free shipping worldwide - see info

Tax calculation will be finalised at checkout

Purchases are for personal use only

Institutional subscriptions


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Similar content being viewed by others


  • Bellah, R.N., Madsen, R., Sullivan, W.M., Swidler, & Tipton, S.N. (1985). Habits of the heart. Berkeley: University of California Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hallie, P. (1979). Lest innocent blood be shed. New York: HarperCollins.

    Google Scholar 

  • Hougland, J.S., & Christenson, J.A. (1982). Voluntary organizations and dominant American values. Journal of Voluntary Action Research, 11, 4.

    Google Scholar 

  • Janoski, T., Musick, M., & Wilson, J. (1998). Being Volunteered? Sociological Forum, 13, 495–519.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Menard, S. (1995). Applied logistic regression analysis. New York: Wiley.

    Google Scholar 

  • Reed, R.B., & Selbee, K. (2000). Distinguishing characteristics of active volunteers in Canada. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 29, 4, 571–592.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Schervish, P.G., & Havens, J.J. (1997). Social participation and charitable giving: a multivariate analysis. Voluntas, 8, 3, 235–260.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Smith, D. (1994). Determinants of voluntary association participation and volunteering: A literature review. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 23, 3, 243–263.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sundeen, R., & Roskoff, S.A. (1995). Teenage volunteers and their values. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 24, 4, 337–357.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Sundeen, R A., & Raskoff, S.A. (1995). Teenage volunteers and their values. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 24, 337–357.

    Article  Google Scholar 

  • Wilson, J., & Musick, M. (1997a). Who cares? Toward an integrated theory of volunteer work. American Sociological Review, 62, 694–713.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wuthnow, R. (1991). Acts of compassion. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.

    Google Scholar 

  • Wuthnow, R. (1995). Learning to care. New York: Oxford University Press.

    Google Scholar 

Download references


Editor information

Editors and Affiliations

Rights and permissions

Reprints and permissions

Copyright information

© 2003 Springer Science+Business Media New York

About this chapter

Cite this chapter

Reed, P.B., Selbee, L.K. (2003). Do People Who Volunteer Have a Distinctive Ethos?. In: Dekker, P., Halman, L. (eds) The Values of Volunteering. Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies. Springer, Boston, MA.

Download citation

  • DOI:

  • Publisher Name: Springer, Boston, MA

  • Print ISBN: 978-0-306-47854-3

  • Online ISBN: 978-1-4615-0145-9

  • eBook Packages: Springer Book Archive

Publish with us

Policies and ethics