Making Volunteers: Civic Life after Welfare's End

Overview

"This book is a pleasure to read—smart, insightful, tragic, ironic, and funny. Eliasoph brings to life the complicated relationships and dilemmas that surface in youth programs, and the twists and turns of the author's analysis are extremely compelling. This book is a must-read for those participating in NGOs, those trumpeting the virtues of volunteer work, and those social scientists interested in questions of government, community building, and civic culture."—Lynne Haney, New York University

"This clear and ...

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Making Volunteers: Civic Life after Welfare's End

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Overview

"This book is a pleasure to read—smart, insightful, tragic, ironic, and funny. Eliasoph brings to life the complicated relationships and dilemmas that surface in youth programs, and the twists and turns of the author's analysis are extremely compelling. This book is a must-read for those participating in NGOs, those trumpeting the virtues of volunteer work, and those social scientists interested in questions of government, community building, and civic culture."—Lynne Haney, New York University

"This clear and engaging book shows how community organizations really work. Nina Eliasoph tackles tensions that run through well-meaning organizations and lives, and she illustrates how people struggle with inequality, differences, having to be nice, and wanting to promote community but accomplishing much less than they desire or realize."—Robert Wuthnow, Princeton University

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Winner of a 2014 Phi Kappa Phi Faculty Recognition Award

"Sociologist Eliasoph reports on her participant-as-observer study focusing on the use of volunteers in empowerment programs for disadvantaged youth. The work is a critical analysis of government and privately funded empowerment programs. . . . Eliasoph writes well, and the text is within the reach of most adult readers."—Choice

"The book is written to appeal to a general audience but should be of particular interest to many organizational scholars and practitioners. It is especially relevant to those studying or leading organizations that seek to blend multiple missions, to integrate participants across racial, ethnic, or class boundaries, or to empower their participants in some way. For these readers, the book provides many valuable interpretive nuggets, as well as exhibiting a keen eye for detecting empty talk and gesture."—Tim Bartley, Administrative Science Quarterly

"I find a lot to recommend in Making Volunteers. The writing is engaging, and Eliasoph makes several valuable contributions to the study of non-profits, organizations, volunteering, and civic culture. Beyond scholars in these and related areas, faculty whose courses include service learning projects, as well as funders, paid organizers, and potential volunteers for Empowerment Programs would be well served to read Making Volunteers and heed its lessons."—Jennifer L. Glanville, Political Science Quarterly

"Ethnographic research on volunteering is thin on the ground. This is surprising considering that the nature of charitable work, which is the lifeblood of so many communities, has proved so elusive to pin down in official statistics. Nina Eliasoph's new book, Making Volunteers: Civic Life after Welfare's End, therefore, is an important addition to the canon of literature which explains how people live the experience of voluntary action."—Jon Dean, Voluntas

"Eliasoph . . . concludes the book with an excellent (if difficult) series of recommendations for stakeholders involved in the world of empowerment projects as they currently exist. Project organizers, external funders, and government administrators should heed them. Projects with fewer contradiction-laden, empowerment-talk-driven, mega-events and more frank recognition of real needs and structural differences could avoid current harms and perhaps even reach some positive outcomes."—Matthew Baggetta, Public Administration

Choice
Sociologist Eliasoph reports on her participant-as-observer study focusing on the use of volunteers in empowerment programs for disadvantaged youth. The work is a critical analysis of government and privately funded empowerment programs. . . . Eliasoph writes well, and the text is within the reach of most adult readers.
Administrative Science Quarterly
The book is written to appeal to a general audience but should be of particular interest to many organizational scholars and practitioners. It is especially relevant to those studying or leading organizations that seek to blend multiple missions, to integrate participants across racial, ethnic, or class boundaries, or to empower their participants in some way. For these readers, the book provides many valuable interpretive nuggets, as well as exhibiting a keen eye for detecting empty talk and gesture.
— Tim Bartley
Political Science Quarterly
I find a lot to recommend in Making Volunteers. The writing is engaging, and Eliasoph makes several valuable contributions to the study of non-profits, organizations, volunteering, and civic culture. Beyond scholars in these and related areas, faculty whose courses include service learning projects, as well as funders, paid organizers, and potential volunteers for Empowerment Programs would be well served to read Making Volunteers and heed its lessons.
— Jennifer L. Glanville
Administrative Science Quarterly - Tim Bartley
The book is written to appeal to a general audience but should be of particular interest to many organizational scholars and practitioners. It is especially relevant to those studying or leading organizations that seek to blend multiple missions, to integrate participants across racial, ethnic, or class boundaries, or to empower their participants in some way. For these readers, the book provides many valuable interpretive nuggets, as well as exhibiting a keen eye for detecting empty talk and gesture.
Political Science Quarterly - Jennifer L. Glanville
I find a lot to recommend in Making Volunteers. The writing is engaging, and Eliasoph makes several valuable contributions to the study of non-profits, organizations, volunteering, and civic culture. Beyond scholars in these and related areas, faculty whose courses include service learning projects, as well as funders, paid organizers, and potential volunteers for Empowerment Programs would be well served to read Making Volunteers and heed its lessons.
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Product Details

Meet the Author

Nina Eliasoph is associate professor of sociology at the University of Southern California. She is the author of "Avoiding Politics".

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments vii
Introduction: Empower Yourself ix
Chapter 1: How to Learn Something in an Empowerment Project 1

Part One: Cultivating Open Civic Equality
Chapter 2: Participating under Unequal Auspices 17
Chapter 3: "The Spirit that Moves Inside You": Puzzles of Using Volunteering to Cure the Volunteer’s Problems 48
Chapter 4: Temporal Leapfrog: Puzzles of Timing 55
Chapter 5: Democracy Minus Disagreement, Civic Skills Minus Politics, Blank "Reflections" 87

Part Two: Cultivating Intimate Comfort and Safety
Chapter 6: Harmless and Destructive Plug-in Volunteers 117
Chapter 7: Paid Organizers Creating Temporally Finite, Intimate, Family-like Attachments 146
Chapter 8:: Publicly Questioning Need: Food, Safety, and Comfort 152
Chapter 9:: Drawing on Shared Experience in a Divided Society: Getting People Out of Their "Clumps" 165

Part Three: Celebrating Our Diverse, Multicultural Community
Chapter 10: "Getting Out of Your Box" versus "Preserving a Culture": Two Opposed Ways of "Appreciating Cultural Diversity" 183
Chapter 11: Tell Us about Your Culture: What Participants Count as "Culture" 190
Chapter 12: Celebrating . . . Empowerment Projects! 206

Conclusion: Finding Patterns in the "Open and Undefined" Organization 231
Appendix 1: On Justification 259
Appendix 2: Methods of Taking Field Notes and Making Them Tell a Story 261
Notes 265
References 281
Index 303

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