We praise those people who do things for others. But the symbolic power of giving means individuals can take advantage of the glow of ‘goodness’ that charity provides.
This book analyses the reality of how charity operates in the social world; how the personal benefits of giving and volunteering are vital for getting charitable acts to happen; how the altruism associated with gifts isn’t always what it seems; how charity misbehaviour or bad management gets overlooked; and how charity symbols are weaponised against those who don’t participate.
Drawing on original data and a novel application of the sociology of Bourdieu, this book examines a wide range of examples from culture, politics and society to provide an entertaining critique of how contemporary charity works.
Reflexivity is vital in social research projects, but there remains relatively little advice on how to execute it in practice. This book provides social science researchers with both a strong rationale for the importance of thinking reflexively and a practical guide to doing reflexivity within their research. The first book on the subject to build primarily on the theoretical and empirical contributions of Pierre Bourdieu’s reflexive work, it combines academic analysis with practical examples and case studies, drawing both on recent reflexive research projects and original empirical data from new projects conducted by the author. Written in an engaging and accessible style, the book will be of interest to researchers from all career stages and disciplinary backgrounds, but especially early-career researchers and students who are struggling with subjectivity, positionality, and the realities of being reflexive.
The first book of its kind, this volume brings together a range of experts to review key methodological issues in the study of voluntary action, charitable behaviour and participation in voluntary organisations.
Using case studies from around the world – from ethnography to media analysis and surveys to peer research – chapters illustrate the challenges of researching altruistic actions and our conceptualisations of them. Across different fields and methods, authors unpick the methodological innovations and challenges in their own research to help guide future study.
Demystifying research and deepening our ability to understand the role of the third sector, this accessible book is suitable for social researchers at all levels.
Recent reports have cautioned that charities are behind the curve in taking advantage of the potential benefits of digital technologies and social media, a problem that particularly affects their engagement with young people. This article assesses the data from a series of focus groups, including a participatory digital element, with students and recent graduates (aged 18–25), examining participants’ current engagement with charity online. The focus groups show that while the right celebrity or organisational backing helps charity messages cut through, overall it is those causes and requests for donations that come through family and friends that are still the main drivers of young people’s engagement with charity on social media. Supporting findings from similar studies, this shows that, despite the global connectivity digital offers, we should think carefully about what can be expected from the charity–digital relationship, and the continued importance of existing offline relationships for students and new graduates.
This article presents a structural, multi-level analysis, showing how volunteering policy, specific volunteering programmes and operational practices in volunteer brokerage organisations promote instrumental motivations in young volunteers. Through evidence drawn from a qualitative study of youth volunteering brokerage workers and volunteering policy-practitioners, it is shown how young people are increasingly pressured into volunteering, and into seeing volunteering as primarily a route into employment. Volunteer recruiters do not challenge these structural factors; instead, employability and easing the transition to work and university form a large part of ‘selling’ volunteering, with young people encouraged to trade their time for experience. It is concluded that these findings fit into a wider theoretical narrative about the changing nature of volunteering, and have the potential to create significant problems for volunteer-involving organisations.
I know a scrupulous adherence to rules of method will not lead to objective truth. Surely this is in part because being a social scientist does not preclude having strong opinions, values, or feelings. But here it demands a willingness to be public about the way they affect one’s standards and the claims one makes. One of the great barriers to maintaining standards is the strong attachment one develops with one’s subjects, which can lead to emotions that make the idea of social science less than realistic. Riding downtown on the subway with Ovie that morning, I was full of passion for the vendors and their sidewalk life. But I tried, with both success and failure during my ride, to remain detached. (Duneier, 1999: 79)
Social research requires us to account for our humanness. Indeed, as Steven Deutsch (1971) wrote nearly half a century ago, social research is too often the work of humans who have failed to account for their humanness while attempting to objectify other humans for study (Gouldner, 1970). Reflexivity offers us a route out. This book aims to help social science researchers to plot a course when operationalising (doing) reflexivity within their research. Building primarily on the theoretical and empirical contributions of Pierre Bourdieu, it addresses an issue all researchers face. While it has been the qualitative methods literature in which the importance of reflexivity has figured most strongly, through using a broad range of examples from eclectic disciplines and fields of study, I hope to show how vital reflexivity can be to all areas of (social) scientific enquiry.
The goal of sociology is to uncover the most profoundly buried structures of the various social worlds which constitute the social universe, as well as the ‘mechanisms’ which tend to ensure their reproduction or their transformation. (Bourdieu, 1996: 1)
This chapter serves to provide an overview of Pierre Bourdieu’s sociological project: his focus on social and cultural inequality, his development of habitus as an explanation for the logic of practice, and his personal biography, and examine how these elements entwined throughout his sociological career. It will give the reader an account of Bourdieu’s theoretical and empirical work, and, in order to underscore the main methodological message of the book, provide a clear case study example to the reader of the relationship between research and personal experience. While overviews of Bourdieu’s work are legion and varying in their approach and focus (see Harker et al., 1990; Jenkins, 1992; Fowler, 2000; Everett, 2002; Grenfell, 2004, 2008; Calhoun, 2010, Thatcher et al., 2016, among many others) the following section will briefly introduce several of Bourdieu’s key concepts, specifically those that will aid us in understanding the development of his reflexive sociology. What this chapter and the next aim to add is a focus on the ways in which Bourdieu’s academic work mirrored his personal experiences, a notion always slightly below the surface (for exceptions, see Jenkins, 2006; Frangie, 2009).
Bourdieu’s studies of the Algerian war (in which he was a soldier), the social and family practices of rural France (in which he grew up and was socialised), the French elite (which he entered), the French university system (in which he came to dominate), the media (in which he came to be a frequent presence), and in other areas serve to foreground the often deep relationship between a researcher and their research.
Bourdieusian reflexivity can be read first as the requirement for researchers to be aware of their own habitus, such as their own predispositions, knowledges, and competences while undertaking research, in order to produce if not objective, then honest and open research. This adherence to or belief in epistemic reflexivity is presented as a regulative idea which should undergird intellectual and methodological practice. For example, in The Weight of the World Bourdieu and colleagues (1999) argued that understanding and taking account of the nature of the interview–interviewee relationship was of key importance in conducting an interview and eliciting a meaningful response. This reflexive approach is central to being able to evaluate the findings of the research, and is best served through what is called ‘active and methodical listening’. This apparently contradictory process requires an empathic, supportive, and in some cases imitative relationship, allied with ensuring that the interviewee feels that they are in control of the interaction. Such a recommendation is about ensuring that research never becomes unthinking and complacent.
The obsession with reflexivity, obvious in the latter half of Bourdieu’s career, is neither an obsession with himself (or the self of the researcher), nor an obsession with words and theory, but an obsession with doing science right:
It fastens not upon the private person of the sociologist in her idiosyncratic intimacy but on the concatenations of acts and operations she effectuates as part of her work and on the collective unconscious inscribed in them. Far from encouraging narcissism and solipsism, epistemic reflexivity invites intellectuals to recognize and to work to neutralize the specific determinisms to which their innermost thoughts are subjected and it informs a conception of the craft of research designed to strengthen its epistemological moorings.