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THE DETERMINANTS OF VOLUNTEERING: EXAMINING HOW CONCEPTIONS OF NEIGHBOURS AND STRANGERS INFLUENCES VOLUNTEER DECISIONS Dineo Seabe

In Africa, service and volunteering have deep historical roots, and is thus not a new phenomenon (Perold et al , 2007:9). On the continent volunteering has existed within the different collectivist cultures in various forms, taking on different names and reflected in phrases which represent the spirit of reciprocity and the importance placed on community over and above the individual. For example, the phrase Umtu ngu mtu nga bantu, in South Africa and tirelo in Botswana which mean a person is a person through others and something done for others (Patel, 2007:9). Moreover, volunteering is an integral part of moral obligations reflected in the cultural norms of caring and social responsibility, which are embodied in the systems of mutual help and service (Moleni & Gallagher, 2007:41). Within the context of the development challenges faced by African countries volunteering is being increasingly recognised as an important and under-recognised asset." (United Nations Volunteers Programme, 2011:4). The literature on volunteering in Africa shows that it strengthens social and economic institutions and consequently contributes to social cohesion and economic productivity. Volunteering is also touted as a strategy for community centred social and economic development and a vehicle for civic renewal and societal revitalisation (Obadare, 2011:2). As a form of social capital, it promotes mutual responsibility among communities that results from the networks build through having mutual goals (Caprara, Mati, Obadare & Perold, 2012). Lough & Mati (2012) further add that volunteering may have significant benefits for peace and reconciliation on the continent. Despite this renewed interest and optimism in the potential of volunteering, there is still limited academic work available, in the region that focuses on its distribution and determinants (Naidu, Sliep & Dageid, 2012: Caprara et al 2012: Akintola, 2010). A careful understanding of volunteering is required because while it is hailed as supporting democratic and participatory principles the reality may be that it perpetuates existing power imbalances, and thereby serv es to entrench existing inequalities (Hustinx, Cnaan & Handy, and 2010:25). Because volunteering takes place within the given structures in society participation is likely to mirror the inequalities that already exist rather than change them. Therefore, this study aims to contribute to the understanding of volunteering in South Africa by examining the influence of human, social and cultural capital on volunteering in the country. The study will employ Wilson & Musicks (1997) integrated theory of volunte ering, which departs from the premise that volunteering is a productive activity that requires human, cultural and social capital. The literature suggests that social class and race may be strongly associated with volunteering in South Africa. For example, Perold et al (2007) in their study find that volunteering is more prevalent among people of lower socio-economic status. In addition, Everratt et al (2005) report that on average African and Indians volunteer more hours per months than Coloured and White South Africans.

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