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Local heroes? A critical discourse analysis of the motivations and ideologies underpinning community-based volunteering

Robinson, David (2016)
Ph.D. thesis, University of Birmingham.

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Research into volunteers' motivations to volunteer (MTV) usually relies on surveys and there is a need for more qualitative research into volunteering motivations, particularly in the United Kingdom. Furthermore, existing qualitative research into volunteering motivations usually relies on the thematic analysis of interviews with volunteers, but while this analysis is necessarily the analysis of discourse, there is rarely a systematic or replicable analysis of such discourse. This thesis aims to contribute to current understanding of MTV and the beliefs underpinning them by drawing upon various tools for discourse analysis in the analysis of community-based volunteers' accounts of their volunteering experiences. However, given the generally positive reception that community based volunteering receives in the public domain, this thesis aims not only to describe and explain informants' MTV but also to critically evaluate volunteers' representations of volunteering practice. A central argument in this thesis is that while a strong sense of concern for the suffering and flourishing of beneficiaries is expressed throughout volunteers' representations, volunteering tends to be represented as an optional act of goodwill, rather than a moral duty or obligation. This raises questions about the dominant ways we think about helping others in contemporary society and about the ideologies underpinning such beliefs. It is argued that bringing to the fore and problematizing such beliefs is critical in a time where traditional collectives are breaking down and the social contracts underpinning British and European society together with the nature of our obligations as citizens in an increasingly globalized society are subject to increasing scrutiny and debate.

Type of Work:Ph.D. thesis.
Supervisor(s):Sealey, Alison and Groom, Nicholas and Toolan, Michael
School/Faculty:Colleges (2008 onwards) > College of Arts & Law
Department:School of English, Drama and American & Canadian Studies, Department of English Language and Applied Linguistics
Subjects:HV Social pathology. Social and public welfare
P Philology. Linguistics
Institution:University of Birmingham
ID Code:6438
This unpublished thesis/dissertation is copyright of the author and/or third parties. The intellectual property rights of the author or third parties in respect of this work are as defined by The Copyright Designs and Patents Act 1988 or as modified by any successor legislation. Any use made of information contained in this thesis/dissertation must be in accordance with that legislation and must be properly acknowledged. Further distribution or reproduction in any format is prohibited without the permission of the copyright holder.
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