Voluntarism, Community Life, and the American Ethic

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Overview

"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.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Choice
Ogilvie (city and regional planning, Univ. of California, Berkeley) attempts to place a case study of volunteers at two New York City church—based homeless shelters into a larger, sociological, theoretical framework. He is more successful in presenting a vivid portrait of the volunteers than he is at theorizing. The study of the centers is careful and insightful, but his treatment of the community literature is superficial and selective. The author draws on the concept of moral communities (Seymour Mandelbaum, Open Moral Communities, CH, Oct'00, 38—1013) as well as the literature of communities of practice (Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice, 1998). A final chapter that is both practical and prescriptive discusses the process of building community organizations that create community, rather than those designed to serve the community. Students and faculty interested in this issue of homelessness will find the book instructive, but those interested in larger issues in community sociology will likely be disappointed. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper—division undergraduates and above.A. A. Hickey, Western Carolina University, Choice, March 2005

— A. A. Hickey, Western Carolina University

Choice - A. A. Hickey

Ogilvie (city and regional planning, Univ. of California, Berkeley) attempts to place a case study of volunteers at two New York City church—based homeless shelters into a larger, sociological, theoretical framework. He is more successful in presenting a vivid portrait of the volunteers than he is at theorizing. The study of the centers is careful and insightful, but his treatment of the community literature is superficial and selective. The author draws on the concept of moral communities (Seymour Mandelbaum, Open Moral Communities, CH, Oct'00, 38—1013) as well as the literature of communities of practice (Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice, 1998). A final chapter that is both practical and prescriptive discusses the process of building community organizations that create community, rather than those designed to serve the community. Students and faculty interested in this issue of homelessness will find the book instructive, but those interested in larger issues in community sociology will likely be disappointed. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper—division undergraduates and above.A. A. Hickey, Western Carolina University, Choice, March 2005

From the Publisher
Ogilvie (city and regional planning, Univ. of California, Berkeley) attempts to place a case study of volunteers at two New York City church—based homeless shelters into a larger, sociological, theoretical framework. He is more successful in presenting a vivid portrait of the volunteers than he is at theorizing. The study of the centers is careful and insightful, but his treatment of the community literature is superficial and selective. The author draws on the concept of moral communities (Seymour Mandelbaum, Open Moral Communities, CH, Oct'00, 38—1013) as well as the literature of communities of practice (Etienne Wenger, Communities of Practice, 1998). A final chapter that is both practical and prescriptive discusses the process of building community organizations that create community, rather than those designed to serve the community. Students and faculty interested in this issue of homelessness will find the book instructive, but those interested in larger issues in community sociology will likely be disappointed. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper—division undergraduates and above.A. A. Hickey, Western Carolina University, Choice, March 2005
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253344236
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 5/28/2004
  • Series: Philanthropic and Nonprofit Studies Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 288
  • Product dimensions: 6.12 (w) x 9.25 (h) x 1.01 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments
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
Conclusion
Appendix: Research Methods
Notes
Bibliography
Index

Indiana University Press

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