Voluntarism, Community Life, and the American Ethic

Voluntarism, Community Life, and the American Ethic

Robert S. Ogilvie
Distribution: World
Publication date: 06/18/2004
Format: Hardback 4 b&w photos, 1 bibliog., 1 index
ISBN: 978-0-253-34423-6
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This is a major contribution to the literature on social participation and voluntary action. It is the first systematic ethnographic study I know that treats volunteers and the institutions they create." —John Van Til, author of Growing Civil Society

Students and faculty interested in the issue of homelessness will find the book instructive... Recommended." —Choice

Why do people volunteer, and what motivates them to stick with it? How do local organizations create community? How does voluntary participation foster moral development in volunteers to create a better citizenry? In this fascinating study of volunteers at the Partnership for the Homeless in New York City, Robert S. Ogilvie provides bold and engaging answers to these questions. He describes how volunteer programs such as the Partnership generate ethical development in and among participants and how the Partnership’s volunteers have made it such a continued success since the early 1980s. Ogilvie’s examination of voluntarism suggests that the American ethic is essential for sustaining community life and to the future well-being of a democratic society.

Author Bio

Robert S. Ogilvie is assistant professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at the University of California, Berkeley, where he teaches classes in community development and urban studies. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University. He is the former director of volunteers at the Partnership for the Homeless in New York City.

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Table of Contents

Introduction: Voluntarism and the American Ethic
1. The Partnership for the Homeless: The Tradition of Churches Helping the Homeless in New York
2. In the Church Shelters
3. Why People Volunteer in Church Shelters and Why They Keep at It
4. The Mediating Role of the Church Shelters
5. The Moral Effects of the Volunteer Experience
6. The Church Shelters as Community-Generating Institutions
7. Social Architecture: The Art of Building Community-Generating Institutions
Appendix: Research Methods