The full text of this item is not available at this time because the student has placed this item under an embargo for a period of time. The Libraries are not authorized to provide a copy of this work during the embargo period, even for Texas A&M users with NetID.
Volunteering as Performance: The Dynamic between Self-Interest and Selflessness within the Volunteer Industry
MetadataShow full item record
This thesis investigates volunteering as performance. In exploring this topic I discuss a dynamic between self-interest and selflessness in the observable performance of service through the social mechanisms of volunteerism. I argue that self-interest is a prominent motivation for volunteering, but its overt performance is kept in check by norms that emphasize selflessness. My argument centers on addressing this lack of acknowledgement toward self-interest within vernacular culture. My research draws examples from an individual, organizational, and global volunteer perspective. Ethnographic research was conducted for this study with a student group that organizes one of the American Cancer Society’s Relay For Life fundraisers. Within this organization, I conceptualize volunteering as a performance that requires a social actor to not just “do” service, but also “show do” and/or “explain show do” their behavior in front of an audience. This presentation culminates in a cultural performance where participants at Relay For Life perform a narrative of selflessness. Expanding my discussion of volunteering to a global perspective, my last chapter addresses volunteer tourism. I argue that the self-interest of both volunteers and volunteer travel companies reduces the recipients of volunteer tourism to essentialized and exociticized cultural "Others." I advocate for the overt acknowledgement of self-interest not only because self-interest is present, but also because it is a central dynamic that constructs volunteerism as performance.
Relay For Life
American Cancer Society
college student volunteerism
college student volunteering
self-interest and volunteering
i to i
volunteering as performance
Bernstein, Joshua D (2013). Volunteering as Performance: The Dynamic between Self-Interest and Selflessness within the Volunteer Industry. Master's thesis, Texas A&M University. Available electronically from
Showing items related by title, author, creator and subject.
Needs assessment for volunteer leadership training among volunteer based organizations in the Bryan/College Station area: an exploratory study Snapp, Byron Webster (2009-05-15)A strong volunteer development program is important to the success of volunteer based organizations. Such a program can bolster volunteer recruitment efforts, increase retention of current volunteers, and improve their ...
Torock, Jodi Lynn (2009-05-15)The purpose of this study was to assess the management of volunteers through self-perceptions of Texas 4-H volunteers. This research was an on-line questionnaire designed to assess volunteers’ attitudes toward recruitment, ...
Smith, Jonathan Andrew; Hampton, Hunter (2015-11-03)Organizations, non-profit or otherwise, often rely on the work of volunteers to accomplish their goals. And although it is often the case that sufficient volunteers can be procured to complete a given task, it remains an ...