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Volunteering and Communication

Studies from Multiple Contexts

Edited By Michael W. Kramer, Loril M. Gossett and Laurie K. Lewis

This book won the 2014 Applied Communication Division Award for Outstanding Edited Book

There is a growing interest in studying nonprofit organizations and volunteers as an alternative to studying employees in for-profit businesses and government agencies. This is driven in part by the recognition that volunteers make important contributions to society and the economy. This book is the first edited volume written primarily by communication scholars to focus on volunteers. It explores the experience of being a volunteer and managing volunteers through a focus on empirical examination of communication in volunteering. The contributors explore volunteers broadly and are divided into five sections which cover becoming a volunteer; learning about self as a volunteer; dark sides of volunteering; organizationally supported volunteering; and voice and dissent. The final chapter suggests areas of future research and application of the book.
An important focus of the book is its data-based, empirical studies. Although each chapter includes applications, those recommendations are based on systematic studies of volunteers rather than primarily on anecdotal evidence or previous literature. Furthermore, each chapter includes a brief field experience narrative written by a volunteer, as well as addressing a broader conceptual or theoretical issue of organizational studies. In this way the book provides more than just case studies of volunteers, but also addresses general organizational issues.
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Ch 12: Negotiating Aging and Agedness in Volunteer Disaster Response Teams


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Chapter 12


Jacquelyn N. Chinn Joshua B. Barbour Texas A & M University

The negotiation of aging and agedness is an important aspect of volunteering and volunteer coordination. Volunteering is an intergenerational activity (Chambré, 1993), and older volunteers comprise a growing portion of the volunteer population in the United States (Goss, 1999). As of 2010, volunteers 65 and over spent disproportionately more time volunteering compared to all other age groups (Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2010). Einholf (2009) demonstrated that Baby Boomers will volunteer in large numbers as they retire. This study explored how volunteers and those organizing volunteers made sense of aging and agedness through a situated study of multiple Community Emergency Response Teams (CERTs). It extended Trethewey’s (2001) work on master narratives to explain how volunteers acquiesced to and resisted the master narrative of decline in organizing—both challenging and reifying assumptions of what aging and agedness mean in the volunteer experience. These tensions are particularly important for volunteer organizations because of the increased importance of identity and relationships to motivate volunteering in the absence of incentives typical in the workplace (e.g., pay). This research offers insight for coordinators who will increasingly be called to manage volunteer groups that span multiple generations and who should question their assumptions about the aged volunteer.

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