Feelings of Obligation Related to Volunteering as Serious Leisure Within a Communitarian Framework
Gallant, Karen Anne
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This research explores feelings of obligation to volunteer, which lie at the interface of volunteering as simultaneously individual and collective and challenge traditional understandings of volunteering as leisure. The study examined volunteering within the context of communitarianism, particularly how collective outcomes of volunteering are related to feelings of obligation to volunteer. Phase one of this research focused on scale creation of a measure assessing feelings of obligation in the context of volunteerism. Using exploratory factor analyses of data from a student sample, this first phase yielded two measures: an 18-item Obligation to Volunteer as Commitment measure (OVC), encompassing dimensions of reward, affective attachment, flexibility, and side bets; and a 14-item Obligation to Volunteer as Duty measure (OVD), encompassing the dimensions of expectation, burden, and constraint. In phase two, survey research was conducted with 300 volunteers at ten community organizations. These new measures were used to examine relationships between obligation to volunteer and the value orientations of individualism and collectivism, the experience of volunteering as serious leisure, and the community characteristics of sense of community and social cohesion. Both individualism and collectivism were associated with the commitment but not the duty dimension of feelings of obligation, and both value orientations, but particularly individualism, was linked to serious leisure. Serious leisure very closely aligned with the commitment aspect of obligation as well as sense of community and social cohesion, thus emerging as a possible pathway for nurturing sense of community in a culture of individualism. Correlation and hierarchical regression analyses link the commitment aspect of obligation to sense of community and social cohesion. Feelings of duty to volunteer, in contrast, were inversely related to sense of community. Thus, the nature of feelings of obligation related to volunteering as commitment or duty have significant implications for the collective outcomes of volunteering, particularly sense of community. Also notable are the strong theoretical and empirical relationships between the OVC scale and serious leisure, which suggest that the newly-developed commitment scale could be considered a measure of the agreeable obligation that accompanies serious leisure pursuits.