A Social Profile
Marc A. Musick and John Wilson
Distribution: World
Publication date: 11/6/2007
Format: cloth 680 pages, 7 figures
6.125 x 9.25
ISBN: 978-0-253-34929-3
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Winner, 2009 ARNOVA Best Book Award
Who tends to volunteer and why? What causes attract certain types of volunteers? What motivates people to volunteer? How can volunteers be persuaded to continue their service? Making use of a broad range of survey information to offer a detailed portrait of the volunteer in America, Volunteers provides an important resource for everyone who works with volunteers or is interested in their role in contemporary society.

Mark A. Musick and John Wilson address issues of volunteer motivation by focusing on individuals' subjective states, their available resources, and the influence of gender and race. In a section on social context, they reveal how volunteer work is influenced by family relationships and obligations through the impact of schools, churches, and communities. They consider cross-national differences in volunteering and historical trends, and close with consideration of the research on the organization of volunteer work and the consequences of volunteering for the volunteer.

Author Bio

Marc A. Musick is Associate Professor of Sociology at The University of Texas at Austin. He specializes in the sociology of health and social psychology.

John Wilson is Professor of Sociology at Duke University. He has published more than 50 articles on volunteerism and the impact of race, gender, religion, and leisure on volunteering in publications such as
Contemporary Sociology, Social Forces, Social Science Quarterly, and American Sociological Review.


"A much needed book for both scholars and practitioners. It covers a wide range of topics dealing with volunteering. . . . A major contribution." —Virginia Hodgkinson, Center for Voluntary Organizations and Service

"This book tells you everything you ever wanted to know about who volunteers and why. . . With over five hundred pages of text crammed full of survey data and references to existing studies (plus another 150 or so pages of appendices and references), this must be one of the most comprehensive publications on volunteering to date." —Angela Ellis Paine, Institute for Volunteering Research ,
Philanthropy UK Newsletter , September 2008

"Sociologists Musick (Univ. of Texas) and Wilson (Duke Univ.) offer a fairly comprehensive review of the current state of the art in the use of volunteers in the US, with one chapter addressing international issues. . . . Well referenced and indexed. Summing Up: Recommended. Libraries serving departments of counseling, sociology, or social work, upper-division undergraduates and above." —
Choice , February 2009

". . . What Musick and Wilson did is short of a miracle. They assembled hundreds of sources and shed bright light on a major theme in the field of studying volunteering. Every scholar and every student of volunteering will have to start with this comprehensive volume. This book is a blessing to all volunteer scholars. I take my hat off to the authors." —Ram A. Cnaan, University of Pennsylvania,

"The opening chapters of the volume are enticing and lucid. The authors ground the sociological understanding of volunteerism in sociology’s foundational concern with altruism. They note that recent interest in volunteerism has been sparked not only by a political milieu in which government programs encourage civic involvement in the public sphere but also by theoretical shifts in the understanding of work and social movements, as well as by interest in care work, paid and unpaid, advanced by feminist scholars. . ." —
REBECCA A. ALLAHYARI, School for Advanced Research, CONTEMPORARY SOCIOLOGY , Vol. 38.3

"It is indeed a milestone, the first comprehensive textbook in the study of volunteering, with an impressive review of the literature complemented by the authors’ own empirical analyses…Easily accessible, each part and each chapter of the book start with a brief and basic introduction of the main themes, questions, and theories covered. The authors reach a fine balance between 'introduction to the topic' and 'advanced discussion' based on the international state-of-the-art research in the field. They succeed in integrating both quantitative and qualitative research from different disciplines and explain carefully the differences among disciplines, with a focus on sociology, psychology, and economic theories. For these reasons, the book promises to attract a wide readership and is a must-read for anyone who wants an introduction to the study of volunteering." —FEMIDA HANDY / LESLEY HUSTINX,
Nonprofit Management & Leadership , vol. 19, no. 4, Summer 2009

Volunteers . . . is a must read for anyone doing formal research on volunteers or voluntary organizations. It is a comprehensive overview of volunteers that is unmatched. It will be a helpful reference for anyone involved in public policy that relies on the voluntary sector. . . . Musick and Wilson have produced an exceleent profile of the volunteer that will be referenced for years to come." —Community Development

"[F]or the novice reader as well as the scholar more immersed in the field, this is the one book to have because of its coverage and sharp insights. The authors have created, in a sense, both an encyclopedia and a guide for future research." —Social Forces

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Table of Contents


Part 1. An Introduction to Volunteering
1. The Importance of Studying Volunteering
2. What Is Volunteering?

Part 2. Subjective Dispositions
3. Personality
4. Motives
5. Values, Norms, and Attitudes

Part 3. Individual Resources
6. Socio-Economic Resources
7. Time and Health
8. Gender
9. Race

Part 4. The Social Context of Volunteering
10. The Life Course: The Early Stages
11. The Life Course: The Later Stages
12. Social Resources
13. Volunteer Recruitment
14. Schools and Congregations
15. Community, Neighborhood, City, and Region
16. Cross-National Differences
17. Trends in Volunteering

Part 5. The Organization of Volunteer Work
18. Volunteer Tasks
19. The Volunteer Role

Part 6. The Consequences of Volunteering
20. Citizenship and Prosocial Behavior
21. Occupation, Income, and Health
22. Conclusion

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