How can 'we' help? Exploring the role of shared social identity in the experiences and benefits of volunteering

Stevenson, C. ORCID: 0000-0002-2438-6425 and Gray, D., 2019. How can 'we' help? Exploring the role of shared social identity in the experiences and benefits of volunteering. Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology. ISSN 1052-9284

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Previous research on volunteering has largely focussed on the individual characteristics and experiences of volunteers, or on their relationship with the volunteering organisation; neglecting the group dynamics of volunteering. To address this gap, we apply a social identity and 'Social Cure' perspective in a thematic analysis of interviews with 40 volunteers from across the South of England. This analysis highlights that group identities are fundamental to volunteers’ motivations and experiences of volunteering. Sharing an identity with other volunteers promoted feelings of belonging, which in turn impacted upon participants' wellbeing. Identity processes also underpinned interactions with the beneficiaries of help, and how volunteers managed the challenges of helping. Finally, shared identity facilitated collective support between volunteers, which was necessary to deal with the challenges of the volunteering role, and this could be facilitated or hindered by the volunteering organisation. We discuss the implications for how volunteering organisations can enhance identity-mediated helping, as well as for understanding the impact of volunteering on health and wellbeing.

Item Type: Journal article
Publication Title: Journal of Community and Applied Social Psychology
Creators: Stevenson, C. and Gray, D.
Publisher: Wiley
Date: 21 November 2019
ISSN: 1052-9284
Divisions: Schools > School of Social Sciences
Record created by: Jonathan Gallacher
Date Added: 08 Oct 2019 15:14
Last Modified: 31 May 2021 15:13

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