This was the surprising title of an article published last Friday in the Guardian which briefly summarised the findings of a study by the University of Limerick on the effects of boredom and pro-social behaviour. The researchers found that boredom could inspire people to be altruistic, empathetic and engage in prosocial tasks in their search to re-establish meaningfulness. Interestingly a small number of the interviewees for this project mentioned boredom as one of the drivers of participation. Many talked about the need for their engagement to be meaningful.
Posts Tagged ‘motivations’
The Third Sector Research Centre (TSRC) has released a new research report on the role that small community groups can play in delivering the ‘Big Society’. Some of the key findings of the report confirm some of the emerging findings from the Pathways project, as presented in the document Strengthening participation: learning from participants we produced last November.
The report highlights that if community groups are to be involved, policies to engage people in community action need to be informed by a more sophisticated understanding of how and why community organisations operate. It notes that people primarily take part in community action for very personal reasons rather than from a sense of civic duty, and questions whether this can be co-opted to deliver particular policy objectives. Voluntary action for many is about social needs, ‘fun’, doing something different to the ‘day job’ or taking action about something that directly affects them.
The report also finds that there were major concerns among organisations involved in this activity that the Big Society agenda would create greater inequalities, by favouring communities with the resources to engage. The research identifies a need for policy to be informed by a much stronger analysis of power relations within and between communities and the state. Where government has been successful at directly motivating people to act, anger has also played a major role as the anti-Iraq war demonstrations or the more recent demonstrations against increased tuition fees show.
A 4-page summary of the report is available here.
On 11 October NCVO and the Third Sector Research Centre jointly organised a seminar that aimed to explore the evidence base for three of the key areas (participation, service delivery and funding) behind the Big Society agenda and examine the implications for the voluntary and community sector and government.
All the presentations, session outlines and discussion notes are now available via googledocs: http://bit.ly/bigsocietyevidenceseminar
Unsurprinsingly, I would recommend you reading the documents relating to the session on participation, including Colin Rochester’s outline ‘Participation: how does qualitative help us?’ which focuses on motivations and looks at some of the reasons why people participate.
Also worth a read is John Mohan’s outline ‘What do volunteering statistics tell us about the prospects for the Big Society?’ which further develops some of the ideas he presented in a recent article on the civic core.