“They Are Just Like You and Me”: Cultivating Volunteer Sympathy
emotions, identity, morality, sympathy, volunteerism
This study demonstrates the centrality of emotion work, especially sympathizing with beneficiaries of help, to sustaining volunteerism. Drawing on data from in-depth interviews with 42 volunteers and paid volunteer coordinators, it explains how volunteers cultivate sympathy, and thus commitment to helping, by framing beneficiaries as deserving. Volunteers constructed recipients as “deserving” along three dimensions: neediness, blamelessness, and impressionability. However, challenges to deservingness disrupted sympathizing, thereby undercutting volunteers' commitment. But rather than quit, volunteers were able to salvage beneficiaries' deservingness by pointing to authority, elaborating on victimhood, relating beneficiaries to their family and friends, and universalizing risks. Engaging in emotion work reinvested volunteers in volunteering.
Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology
Original Publication Date
DOI of published version
UNI ScholarWorks, Rod Library, University of Northern Iowa
Froyum, Carissa, "“They Are Just Like You and Me”: Cultivating Volunteer Sympathy" (2018). Faculty Publications. 642.