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Talking 'bout my generation: generational differences in the attitudes of volunteers at the 2012 Olympic Games

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This article assesses whether the values underpinning the motivations of older and younger people to volunteer are different. It does this through in-depth interviews with 38 volunteers at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Analysis using the framework of the psychological contract and narrative biographies distinguished between value-led and market-led motives. An initial coding of the interviews showed that older volunteers were more likely to express altruistic values while younger volunteers' motivations were related to improving their employability. However, this age dichotomy became less distinct as qualitative analysis demonstrated how the older volunteers were also motivated by self-interest in certain ways. In particular, a motivation to express a self-identity as a 'volunteer' led them to continue volunteering despite other rewards not being present. The analysis illustrates the interplay of values, circumstances and experience in influencing motivations to volunteer, and thus the difficulty in making generalisations about differences in values between generations.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: July 2016

This article was made available online on June 7, 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "Talking ’bout my generation: generational differences in the attitudes of volunteers at the 2012 Olympic Games".

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  • Voluntary Sector Review publishes high-quality, peer-reviewed, accessible papers on third sector research, policy and practice. It is an invaluable cutting-edge resource for all those researching or working in the fast-growing voluntary, community and wider third sectors.

    The journal covers the full range of issues relevant to voluntary sector studies, including: definitional and theoretical debates; management and organisational development; financial and human resources; philanthropy; volunteering and employment; regulation and charity law; service delivery; civic engagement; industry and sub-sector dimensions; relations with other sectors; social enterprise; evaluation and impact. Voluntary Sector Review covers voluntary sector studies from a variety of disciplines, including sociology, social policy, politics, psychology, economics, business studies, social anthropology, philosophy and ethics. The journal includes work from the UK and Europe, and beyond, where cross-national comparisons are illuminating. With dedicated expert policy and practice sections, Voluntary Sector Review also provides an essential forum for the exchange of ideas and new thinking.

    Rigorous and stimulating, Voluntary Sector Review is an indispensable tool for everyone who values empirically-grounded, theoretically-informed and policy-relevant reviews of the future direction of the voluntary sector.

    Editors: Nick Acheson (Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland), Bernard Harris (University of Strathclyde, UK), Rob Macmillan, (University of Birmingham, UK)

    The journal is published in association with the Voluntary Sector Studies Network (VSSN) and a print copy of the journal is a membership benefit.

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