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What Matters?Ethnographies of Value in a Not So Secular Age$
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Courtney Bender and Ann Taves

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780231156851

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231156851.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM COLUMBIA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.columbia.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in CUPSO for personal use.date: 17 May 2022

Volunteer Experience

Volunteer Experience

(p.119) Volunteer Experience
What Matters?

Erica Bornstein

Columbia University Press

This chapter discusses the concept of volunteering and links it to Victor Turner's notion of experience. The concept of volunteering surpasses the forms of humanitarian practice such as financial donation and professional aid work, and contrasts the productive realm of wage work. It enters into an arena of free action that is not coerced and selfless; thus allowing itself to be constituted as an “experience.” Some people seek out volunteer experiences, while others try to encourage people to volunteer. The bounded experience of volunteering brings the volunteer closer to the afflicted, the poor, the suffering, and the needy. Victor Turner notes that the experience of volunteering is triggered by “expression, or communication with others”—one that may seem structurally similar to a religious experience but different from spiritual transformation in its category as a secular practice.

Keywords:   Victor Turner, volunteering, experience, spiritual transformation, secular

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