The praxis of voluntary service : an investigation of the logic of service in Rotary and Zonta

Crichton, Merrilyn Yvonne (2008) The praxis of voluntary service : an investigation of the logic of service in Rotary and Zonta. PhD thesis, Queensland University of Technology.


Voluntary service is experiencing transition. This transition is marked by social, symbolic and policy changes that have transformed the relationship between paid and unpaid work, and is reordering the connection between voluntary practice and professional expertise. Giddens (1998) identified this as the third way. Rose (2000) sees this transformation as a strategy embodying a tacit regime around the economic transactions that implicate the agent in self-governance based on normative moral possibilities, thus ordering the moral subject. Research has not yet established the fundamental elements of this transforming logic, or the mechanisms by which oppositions such as paid and unpaid are being resolved by voluntary organisations. The thesis argues that third way commentators’ view of the bureaucratic transformation of voluntary service that examines “historical and social conditions, professional strategies, and disciplinary stakes and constraints…” (Shusterman, 1999: 10) does not account for the nature of service, or the practice and logic of that service. Therefore this study interrogates the notion and logic of service for the nature of the discourse and experience of service at the time of the move toward the third way, the point that voluntary values and practices meeting economic action. This logic is examined and extrapolated by empirical examination of the case service in Rotary and Zonta, organisations whose members are professional and act in voluntary positions. Bourdieu’s (for example 1984[1979], 1998, 2002[1977]) work on the logic of practice (featuring field, habitus and practice) frames the theoretical exploration of the embeddedness and logic of a particular social object in the context of practice. Exploring the field, habitus and practice for aspects of service suggests a multidimensional approach that investigates the discourse, experience, dispositions and contextual practice of service. Thus the study of service is conducted by collecting data from codes of professional conduct and objectives of Rotary and Zonta (the discursive level of interpretation); professionals’ experience and interpretation of volunteering (where the habitus of volunteers is made visible); and observations of practice and order at Rotary and Zonta meetings. The data was collected and analysed using Kenneth Burke’s rhetorical analysis (1969a, 1969b, 1989), Erving Goffman’s footing (Burns, 1992; Goffman, 1981), and Harvey Sacks’ indexicality and membership categorisation analysis (Lepper, 2000; Sacks, 2000[1992]). This study examines and reports on elements and relationships in the service discourse such as expertise, judgment and discretion; aspects of the logic of service exhibited in professional agent’s experience of voluntary service, including agency and professional ethics; and the rituals practiced by professionals in the voluntary context. Many of these elements are contextual components of the opposition between economic and symbolic values in the voluntary setting. Empirical evidence presented in this study suggests that voluntary service when practiced within the new frame of economic rationales and bureaucratic structures does not amalgamate opposing sectors so much as expose a common logic of service.

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ID Code: 17020
Item Type: QUT Thesis (PhD)
Supervisor: Adkins, Barbara & Burton, Judith
Additional Information: Recipient of 2008 Outstanding Thesies Award
Keywords: agency, bourdieu, bureaucracy, Burke, economic action, habitus, position taking, praxis, professional, Rotary International, service, volunteer, volunteering, Zonta International of Service, ODTA
Divisions: Past > QUT Faculties & Divisions > QUT Carseldine - Humanities & Human Services
Institution: Queensland University of Technology
Deposited On: 18 Dec 2008 04:39
Last Modified: 02 Jul 2017 14:39

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