Diversity and the perceived barriers to participation in volunteer activity by older people

  • George A. Young

Student thesis: Doctoral ThesisDoctor of Philosophy


The first chapter introduces the subject from a psychological and sociological perspective emphasising the basic human activity of helping those in need. Governmental prominence for policies that assist this activity is briefly discussed with special mention of the programmes that encourage volunteering. Programmes particularly directed at older people, such as the Age Concern ‘Debate of the Age’ are considered briefly. An extensive review of the extant literature is the subject of the second chapter. The pervious research is explored to discover the formulae used to define a volunteer. A definition relative to this research is created. Volunteering issues aggravated by the demographic situation of older people are explored. Empirical volunteer survey research by mutual organisations is explored to ascertain the extent and nature of the already recorded volunteer population. The penultimate section of this chapter investigates the nature of old age and the strategies that older people adopt to enjoy the benefits and contain the problems. The issue of diversity arises from consideration of the literature suggesting that, although it is an essential voluntary sector strength, it is also a further barrier to recruitment. A model diversity is proposed. Chapter three reviews the theoretical processes, procedures and technologies used to collect and analyse the data required to discover the answer to the research problem. Analysis of the questionnaire survey data received is the subject of chapter four. The discovery of the agency uniqueness of volunteer profiles is the principle finding of this part of the research. The fifth chapter is the qualitative analysis of the oral and written statements received. A content analysis of the scripts and texts provided rich data covering motivational factors. Motivational factors were the same for volunteers in the same organisation, but differed between organisations. Finally, the analysed data is collated and discussed progressively toward a theory of diversity. The individuality of each branch of each agency is progressively described culminating in the creation of a model that infers that diversity is a barrier that aggravates all other barriers. The personal realisations of the researcher are described.
Date of Award2003
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorPaul W Davis (Supervisor)


  • Diversity
  • perceived barriers
  • participation in volunteer activities
  • older people

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