Unintended volunteers: The volunteering pathways of working class young people in community sport

Craig Johnston, Simon Bradford, Laura Hills

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Abstract

Sport has become a major setting for youth volunteering in the UK. Volunteering has become understood as a means of enhancing responsible citizenship and of adding various capitals to young people’s identities. Much research on young people’s volunteering in sport has typically (and sometimes by default) focused on middle class experiences, highlighting the combination of instrumental and altruistic motives for volunteering, the importance of family and school in decisions about volunteering and its perceived longer-term benefits. This article focuses on the experiences of young working class volunteers and is based on an evaluation of five community sport projects that were part of the StreetGames Building a Participation Legacy from the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games in Disadvantaged Areas initiative. Data from a combination of semi-structured interviews and focus groups were analysed to understand working class young people’s volunteering pathways, including their initial engagement, motives and understandings of challenges and benefits. The findings from this study indicate that, in contrast to middle class young people, these young people’s routes into volunteering were not part of a strategic career plan, but occurred contingently and with support from coaches. Young people subsequently suggested that volunteering and its scope for gaining formal training helped them to develop skills associated with desirable forms of social and cultural capital that might lead to labour market attachment, particularly in sport. These findings have important implications for understanding how social class shapes pathways into youth volunteering in the UK and for developing appropriate policy to encourage a wider range of young people to volunteer. KEY WORDS Volunteering Young people Community Sport Community Coaching Social Capital
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)231-244
JournalInternational Journal of Sport Policy and Politics
Volume8
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 22 Mar 2016

Keywords

  • Volunteering
  • Young people
  • Community Sport
  • Community Coaching
  • Social Capital

Cite this

Johnston, C., Bradford, S., & Hills, L. (2016). Unintended volunteers: The volunteering pathways of working class young people in community sport. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 8(2), 231-244.
Johnston, Craig ; Bradford, Simon ; Hills, Laura. / Unintended volunteers: The volunteering pathways of working class young people in community sport. In: International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics. 2016 ; Vol. 8, No. 2. pp. 231-244.
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Johnston, C, Bradford, S & Hills, L 2016, 'Unintended volunteers: The volunteering pathways of working class young people in community sport', International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 231-244.

Unintended volunteers: The volunteering pathways of working class young people in community sport. / Johnston, Craig; Bradford, Simon; Hills, Laura.

In: International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, Vol. 8, No. 2, 22.03.2016, p. 231-244.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

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Johnston C, Bradford S, Hills L. Unintended volunteers: The volunteering pathways of working class young people in community sport. International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics. 2016 Mar 22;8(2):231-244.