Understanding volunteerism in South Africa : a mixed methods approach

Seabe, Dineo Shirley (2014-12)

Thesis (MA)--Stellenbosch University, 2014.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The past two decades have seen a growing interest in volunteering in South Africa as the new democracy struggles with providing services while ensuring the economic and social inclusion of its populace. This interest is inspired by the desire, especially by government, to harness the benefits of volunteering to assist in dealing with the challenges of unemployment, poverty and inadequate levels of service delivery. However, because individual characteristics, needs and attitudes are linked to volunteering, it requires a careful understanding of its determinants and motivations if its potential for development is to be realised (Anheier & Salamon, 1999). This research therefore investigated which human, social and cultural capital variables best explain volunteering in South Africa. The aim was to understand how the interaction of poverty, inequality, and religious adherence in the country influence the chances of volunteering, the choice of activity and the sense people make of their participation. The understanding of this interaction is important, because as much as volunteering is “hailed as supporting democratic and participatory principles” the reality may be that it “perpetuates existing power imbalances”, and thereby serves to entrench existing inequalities (Hustinx, Cnaan & Handy, 2010, p. 426). To achieve the above aims the researcher adopted a holistic approach to the study of volunteering, with both an integrated theory and research design. Consequently, Wilson and Musick’s (1997) integrated resources theory of volunteering guided the study. Additionally, in line with the research aims and theory, a sequential mixed methods design was employed, consisting of two phases. In research Phase I, the 2001 South African wave of the World Values Survey was examined through logistic and descriptive analysis to examine the patterns and determinants of volunteering. In research Phase II, the study investigated which human, social and cultural capital factors feature in volunteers’ interpretations of their actions. The findings of Phase I revealed that most South Africans partake in formal volunteering and prefer to do so in religious, community and health and sports organisations. Additionally, they showed that, true to the findings of other studies, human capital is an important determinant of volunteering. The results indicate that human capital factors such as educational attainment and income form the basis for certain groups to be excluded from volunteer activities. Another interesting result among the human capital variables was the negative relationship between employment and volunteering. Prejudice and civic-mindedness were consistent positive predictors of volunteering among the social capital variables, while religiosity also came out as a significant predictor of volunteering. Participants’ narratives in research Phase II revealed that altruism and egoistic influences are important factors in decisions to volunteer. This is evident in how they understood volunteering as being an expression of ‘Ubuntu’, but at the same time a means to employment. Indeed, these two themes emerged as the most common themes in participants’ constructions. Most participants noted giving back to their communities as a reason, yet some also mentioned volunteering as a means to survive the harsh township life of poverty, unemployment and crime and violence. This instrumentalising of volunteering was also evident in the participants’ reasons to stay committed.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Oor die afgelope twee dekades was daar ʼn groeiende belangstelling in vrywilligheidswerk in Suid Afrika, soos die nuwe demokrasie sukkel om dienste te lewer asook ekonomiese en sosiale insluiting vir sy mense te verseker. Die belangstelling word ge-inspireër deur die begeerte, veral van die regering af, om die aktiwiteit se voordele om die probleme van werkloosheid, armoede en onvoldoende vlakke van diens- lewering te tuis. Egter, as gevolg van individuele karaktertrekke, behoeftes en houdings wat geheg is aan vrywilligheidswerk, is dit nodig vir ʼn begrip van die bepalings en motivering agter dit, as dit die potensiaal het om ontwikkeling aan te spoor (Anheier & Salamon, 1999). Met hierdie navorsing het ek ondersoek watter menselike, sosiale en kulturele veranderlikes vrywilligheidswerk in Suid Afrika die beste verduidelik. My doel is om te verstaan hoe die interaksie tussen armoede, ongelykhede en godsdienstige nakomste in die land, die kanse van vrywilligheidswerk, die keuse van aktiwiteit en die sin wat mense maak van hulle deelname impak. Dis belangrik om hierdie interaksie te verstaan, want alhoewel vrywilligheidswerk “[is] hailed as supporting democratic and participatory principles” die realiteit is dat “[it] perpetuates existing power imbalances”, en deur dit word ongelykhede vergerger (Hustinx et al., 2010, p. 426). Om die bogenoemde doelwitte te bereik, het ek ʼn holistiese benadering van die studie van vrywilligheidswerk aangeneem, met beide ʼn gëintegreerde teorie en navorsing ontwerp. Wilson en Musick’s (1997) gëintegreerde hulpbronne teorie van vrywilligheidswerk het die studie gelei. In lyn met die navorsing se doelwitte en teorie, het ek ʼn sekwensiële gemengde metodes ontwerp gebruik wat uit twee fase bestaan. In Fase I van die navorsing het ek die World Value Survey (2001) van Suid Afrika ontleed in ʼn logiese en beskrywende vorm om die patrone van die bepalings van vrywilligheids werk te ondersoek. In Fase II van die navorsing het ek die hulpbronne verwante faktore wat te vore kom in vrywilliges se interpretasies van hul aksies, ondersoek. Die resultate van Fase I wys dat meeste Suid Afrikaners deelneem aan formele vrywilligheidswerk en verkies om so te doen in ʼn godsdientige, gemeenskaplike, gesondheids of sport organisasie. Hulle wys ook dat, dieselfde soos in ander studies, menselike kapitaal ʼn baie belangrike bepaling is van vrywilligheidswerk. Die resultate bewys dat menselike kapitaal faktore soos ovoeding en inkomste die rede is hoekom sekere groepe uitgesluit is uit vrywilligheidswerk aktiwiteite. ʼn Ander interessante resultaat in die menselike faktore is dat daar ʼn negatiewe verhouding is tussen mense wat werk en vrywilligheidswerk. A Vooroordeel en burgerlike gee was die enigste twee faktore wat konstante, positiewe veranderlikes van vrywilligheidswerk in verband met menselike kapitaal was. Godsdiens het ook sterk voorgekom as ʼn rede vir vrywilligheidswerk, veral kerk bywoning. Deelnemers se beskrywings in Fase II van die navorsing wys dat altrϋisme en egoїstiese invloede belangrike faktore is in die keuse om vrywillige werk te doen. Die getuienis van hierdie is in die feit dat hulle vrywillige werk sien as ʼn uitdrukking van ‘Ubuntu’ en op dieselfde tyd ʼn manier om werk te bekom. Hierdie twee temas het na vore gekom uit verduidelikings vir hulle eerste vrywilligheidswerk. Baie deelnemers het gesê dat hulle terug gee aan hulle gemeenskappe. Dit was nog ʼn rede om vrywilligheidswerk te doen. Sommige het ook gesê dat vrywilligheidswerk een manier is om die swaar township lewe van armoede, werkloosheid, geweld en misdaad te oorleef. Dit was ook ʼn rede vir baie van die vrywilliges om getrou te bly aan vrywilligheidswerk.

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