The psychology of the Volunteer Movement

Mgr. Shestakov V., Rabbit. R.

In this article the author considers the volunteer movement from the point of view of psychological mechanisms. Social hierarchy, egoism and incentive, form the main triad supporting competitive activity in these associations.

Over the past few years, active development has received volunteer movement, positioned on the foundation of altruism and the unselfishness of participants.

The mission of the voluntary organizations is expressed in the humane service to the ideals of society, in the giving of free aid to those-in-need without any personal benefit, professional growth, preferences for admissions, financial incentives, and so on.

Now, look at this abstract theory from another point of view and try to understand that the concept of service to ideals and morality is nowhere spelled out and can bear only an individual meaning, laid down by specific representatives of the previous generations. As for the concepts of “national and public interests,ˮ in historical retrospect they are diametrically different, and therefore require specification.

On this basis, the author raises the question of where the designated allegories end and reality begins, in the language of the current paradigm or market relations. So, first things first, we need to verify the correctness of the terminologies as used.

So, the word “volunteerˮ originates in the Latin voluntārius. Then came the French, volontaire, and finally we have the English version, volunteer. (Lewder I. A. Social work).

Initially, the volunteers were soldiers who fought for glory and booty during the Eighty Years’ War (1568-1648). It’s noteworthy that at present nothing has changed, including the meaning of the term.

The European and American authors: M. Holíková, PhDr. B. Bittnerová, T. Zlámalová, E. Brychtová, D. Wagner, P. Krueger, R. Heck, et al., almost equally interpret this definition, although with some differences:

(The American Journal of Psychology. 403-415)

«Volunteers activity is intended to establish contacts with subsequent employment» and this proposition is contrary to Russian sociology.

In particular, Russian sociologist, E. I. Cholostova, writes:

«Volunteers are people who do something of the(ir) own free will by consent not by coercion. They may work informally, free of charge in both public and private organization of medical education or social security, or be members of voluntary organizations». (p. 121-124)

It’s necessary to recognize that the Volunteers’ Organization developed on the basis of effective exploitation of free labour, taking into account, of course, the quality of socialization.

Referring to the great scientists: J. Watson, E. Thorndike, J. W. Volpe, W. Bell and, of course I. Sechenov, the authors highlight the basic mechanisms on which such organizations are based.

  1. Competition within the social hierarchy;
  2. Egoism;

III. Incentive;

It’s important to understand that the hierarchical instinct for human, indeed, as for most social individuals, is of primary importance because the whole foundation of life is built only on the basis of social competition. As a fundamental structure, the hierarchical instinct of humans hasn’t changed much in contrast to the sexual instinct and the instinct of self-preservation. (They have changed greatly under the influence of culture).

Competing with each other in horizontal relations, “unselfish volunteersˮ forget that the main goal of social communication is the opportunity to rise slightly higher within the social hierarchy.  For example: A person who can understand and speak foreign languages, would normally be someone a little older who has a greater perspective on life.

Any child psychologist or teacher would say that a small child wouldn’t refuse to eat in order to turn a meal into a competition with the opportunity of winning a trifling prize! The same thing happens in a volunteer organization as well as in most other social structures.

As for.№ II. Selfishness:

It’s quite obvious that few people will do anything, just on a whim, without some sort of benefit, and, here, case volunteers are no exception. Each officially registered volunteer has a specialized passport, which records all his actions and all the countries where these took place. The more actions and the more diverse the geography, the more privileges he would attain in order, for example, to enter a University.

Regarding. № III. Incentive:

We pay attention to the full financing of all trips undertaken by “selfless volunteers.ˮ (Travel, food, clothing, methodological material, pocket money, etc.)

In an article (August 2012) by Loktionova T., she writes:

«Volunteer assistant provided by the person or a group of individuals to society as a whole or to individuals, is based on the idea of unselfish service to the humane ideas of humanity, and is not for profit pay or career development».

It is necessary to recognize that according to the author the thesis is not meaningful from the point of view of psychology, periodicals, and modern reality, as can be seen by reading the article: Egocentrism in the Volunteer’s Dilemma of 2018, which was published in the journal of American psychology (P. 11). 403-415).

The author draws attention to the extremely positive attitude to the volunteer movement as a social springboard, with which to find like-minded people to build a hierarchy of personal values, possessing the freedom to learn new skills and implement existing ones.

It’s necessary to recognize that it is a realization based on social competition which defines the essence of the volunteer movement, but not abstract ambiguities expressed in ideas of humanity, and so on.

Literary sources used by the author

Lauder I. Volunteerism as a form of social service // Social work. M., 2006.  No. 2. P. 12-16.

Kholostova E. I. Volunteers / / Dictionary-reference book on social work / edited by prof. M., 1997.

Egocentrism in the Volunteer’s Dilemma. Joachim I. Krueger, Patrick R. Heck and Derik Wagner

The American Journal of Psychology. Vol. 131, No. 4 (Winter 2018), pp. 403-415.

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