Volunteers of Oman during the Corona Crisis: An Exploratory Study in the Sociology of Altruism
Volunteering is a major aspect of contemporary globalized societies. It has long been an indicator for proper functioning of society at large. Further, it made notable difference for individuals, groups and organizations. Despite seeming homogeneity in the concept of voluntarism however individuals' motivations toward this supposedly "altruistic action" must be different among individuals and groups living in different socio-economic conditions and acting according to diverse cultural rules and virtues. One useful means to explore assumed diversity is to focus on individuals' motivations and ways these are constituted in globalized discourses. Equally instructive too is to explore the patterns these as articulated, disseminated and reproduced specifically in local environments. I argue that only then differences between locally embedded concepts and globalized hegemonic discourses can be elucidated. This paper first offers a critical reading of major concepts and assumptions characterizing cultural studies of voluntarism. It proceeds to examine motivations of voluntarism in an exemplary study which organizes them in sets of protective means, values, career-related issues, social dimensions and understanding. It employs a questionnaire consisting of thirty questions representing the above five variables. A classified sample of individuals living in Oman and representing different genders, age and income groups among other variables are then surveyed to quantify the significance of the aforementioned categories of motivation. The results are then discussed against the above critical notes on voluntarism as a discourse of social power. The paper finally concludes with suggestions on the idea of localizing sociological imagination, concepts and methods using more intensive methods aiming at excavating ideas, beliefs and ways of life described in terms offered by the changing societies and cultures being studied and represented.
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