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A Cross-National Examination of the Motivation to Volunteer

Religious Context, National Value Patterns, and Nonprofit Regimes
  • Lesley HustinxEmail author
  • Ronan Van Rossem
  • Femida Handy
  • Ram A. Cnaan
Chapter
Part of the Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies book series (NCSS)

Abstract

Although motivation to volunteer (MTV) is one of the most frequently researched topics in the field of volunteering research, few studies have compared and explained MTV cross-nationally. Using data from the 1990 World Values Surveys, this study examines if and how specific societal characteristics are associated with self-reported motivations to volunteer, focusing on national religious context, dominant value patterns, and institutional variations in terms of welfare state regimes and characteristics of the nonprofit sector. Across all countries studied, people who volunteered expressed both altruistic and self-oriented motivations, but we observed important cross-national variations in the emphasis put on both motivational dimensions. Besides the influence of individual-level characteristics, we found partial evidence for a contextual understanding of MTV. With respect to religion, we expected a beneficial relationship with altruistic motivations. While such a positive relationship was found at the individual level, the evidence for a religious national context was ambiguous: On the one hand, no relationship was found between extensive religious networks and support for altruistic motivations; on the other, strong religious beliefs among the general population were negatively associated with both altruistic and self-interested MTV. The prevalence of a postmaterial value pattern did not represent a threat to feelings of altruism, and produced mixed findings concerning self-interested MTV. Finally, welfare states with lower social spending, a large nonprofit sector with little revenue from government, and an active citizenry, in terms of a high rate of volunteering, stimulated the expression of altruistic motivations.

Keywords

Motivation to volunteer Value patterns Religious context Cross-national variation Nonprofit sector regimes 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lesley Hustinx
    • 1
    Email author
  • Ronan Van Rossem
    • 1
  • Femida Handy
    • 2
  • Ram A. Cnaan
    • 2
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of SociologyGhent UniversityGhentBelgium
  2. 2.School of Social Policy and PracticeUniversity of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphiaUSA
  3. 3.Graduate Institute for PeaceKyunghee UniversitySeoulKorea

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