Talking ’bout my generation: generational differences in the attitudes of volunteers at the 2012 Olympic Games
Nichols, Geoffrey; Ralston, Rita (2016)


This article assesses whether the values underpinning the motivations of older and younger people to volunteer are different. It does this through in-depth interviews with 38 volunteers at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Analysis using the framework of the psychological contract and
narrative biographies distinguished between value-led and market-led motives. An initial coding of the interviews showed that older volunteers were more likely to express altruistic values while younger volunteers’ motivations were related to improving their employability. However, this age
dichotomy became less distinct as qualitative analysis demonstrated how the older volunteers were also motivated by self-interest in certain ways. In particular, a motivation to express a self-identity as a ‘volunteer’ led them to continue volunteering despite other rewards not being present.
The analysis illustrates the interplay of values, circumstances and experience in influencing motivations to volunteer, and thus the difficulty in making generalisations about differences in values between generations.


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