Friday, June 25, 2010

Volunteering as grandparents to build social capital in our community

Recently, I completed an academic literature review titled: “Is a Volunteer a Philanthropist?” It explores the relationship between volunteering and philanthropy as concepts. It seeks a simple answer to the question.

The review finds that no such simple answer to the question can be found and thus continues to explore what kind of volunteer is a philanthropist by categorising the available literature in different discourses in relation to volunteering and philanthropy. I found 13 different categories in four different discourses that could define a volunteer a philanthropist or not. Only one of the categories, the ideological volunteer actually did qualify as a philanthropist without any additional fittings.

One of the most difficult questions in volunteering seems to be if an immediate family member is qualified as a volunteer when providing services or time to another member of their own family. Particularly the role of a grandparent as a volunteer in their own family comes to mind.

It is interesting, in my opinion, as very often the family consists of only the parents and the children. In some countries the grandparent, particularly grandmother is counted as part of the family and in others not so. There are two interesting articles and one book I found which would be considered to discuss informal volunteering by parents or grandparents (Petriwskyj and Warburton, 2007, Khalil, 2004, Prochaska, 1988).

I am also reading articles on grandparenting as such that can contribute to this discussion. Coall and Hetwig have done a huge overview in the grandparental investment from the Darwinian point of view (Coall and Hertwig, 2010) . Eric Uslaner looks into our cultural heritage as a bearer of the trust factor in our life and finds that the people from the Scandinavian background are the most trusting people in the world (Uslaner, 2008).

I’d like to hear from anyone who is interested in volunteering and grandparenting from a cultural point of view or just as an interest. My question is how in a multicultural society like Australia, we can preserve or transfer our heritage and culture to our grandchildren in order to help to bring them up as healthy and balanced human beings?

COALL, D. & HERTWIG, R. 2010. Toward an integrative framework of grandparental investment. Behavioral and Brain Sciences, 33, 40.
KHALIL, E. L. 2004. What is altruism? Journal of Economic Psychology, 25, 97.
PETRIWSKYJ, A. M. & WARBURTON, J. 2007. Redefining volunteering for the global context: a measurement matrix for researchers. Australian Journal on Volunteering, 12, 7-13.
PROCHASKA, F. 1988. The voluntary inpulse: philanthropy in modern Britain, London, Faber.

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