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Constant, serial and trigger volunteers: volunteering across the lifecourse and into older age

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In recent years there has been an increased recognition that philanthropic engagement needs to be understood longitudinally, rather than as a snapshot in time. Much of this work is quantitative, utilising panel data to track groups of individuals over a number of years. In contrast, this article takes a qualitative approach to the study of volunteering over the course of individuals' and their families' lives. In doing so, it explores how engagement changes over the lifecourse, and how this impacts volunteer engagement in older age. Understanding this is crucial: volunteering is not an activity that takes place in isolation but rather one that must be situated over time and within a range of other activities. This article uses data from 26 life history interviews conducted in England to develop a heuristic put forward by Davis Smith and Gay (2005), which proposes three categories of older volunteer: constant, serial and trigger volunteers.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Email: [email protected]

Publication date: July 2016

This article was made available online on June 9, 2016 as a Fast Track article with title: "Constant, serial and trigger volunteers: volunteering across the lifecourse and into older age".

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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.

    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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