Using normative theory to explain the effect of religion and education on volunteering


Journal Article

Many studies have found that volunteers tend to be more religious and better educated, but it is not clear why. One explanation is that churches and schools instill a sense of obligation in people to help others and this obligation is fulfilled by doing volunteer work. In this study data from National Survey of Midlife in the United States are used to examine the influence of education and having been raised in a religious home on adults' sense of obligation and subsequent volunteering. Religious background has no direct effect on sense of obligation. However, it exerts an influence on obligation through private (but not public) adult religiosity. Education has both direct and indirect effects (through obligations) on adult volunteering. The results underline the fact that social norms should not be ignored in explanations of volunteerism. © 2012 by Pacific Sociological Association.

Full Text

Duke Authors

Cited Authors

  • Son, J; Wilson, J

Published Date

  • September 1, 2012

Published In

Volume / Issue

  • 55 / 3

Start / End Page

  • 473 - 499

Electronic International Standard Serial Number (EISSN)

  • 1533-8673

International Standard Serial Number (ISSN)

  • 0731-1214

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

  • 10.1525/sop.2012.55.3.473

Citation Source

  • Scopus