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Literature Review


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A literature review on the social identities of volunteers and those in need of assistance and the inter-organizational relationship they have.

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Literature Review

  1. 1. Literature Review The subsequent research is pertinent to the study of the social identities of volunteers and those in need of assistance and the inter-organizational relationship they have. The Social Identity Theory is extremely relevant in this particular study to look at how the social environment of the nonprofit world impacts its members, specifically volunteers and those they are helping. Inter-organizational relationships and interactions must also be researched more fully to understand the occurrences between these two groups. Finally, the literature review will conclude with information on self- image, so that this study is able to link the relations between the two groups and the members, but also the impact that is being made on individuals. Social Identity Social Identity Theory For the majority, social identity theory(SIT) focuses on the biases, prejudices, and discriminations that is formulated among various social groups that is a key element of self-concept and is shaped and reinforced by membership of social groups and categories (Hargie, et al.). For this reason, it is imperative to apply this theory to the
  2. 2. current study to investigate the relationship between volunteers and those they assist and the affects that it has on each of the groups involved and the individuals within those groups. Social identities and how they are categorized are vital to the self- concepts and self-images that people formulate for them. Turner (as cited in Price, ) divides the social identity theory into three stages: (1) categorizing people into groups according to their membership giving them a salient identity, (2) understanding and comprehending aspects of the groups being evaluated, and (3) attaching stereotypes to one’s one group and own self. Hargie, et al, explains that social identity is evaluated through the comparison of two groups and the interactions that take place between them. This process of interaction between groups and within one’s one group encourages identification of the group a person is involved in, enhancing certain stereotypes of both the in- and out- group. Due to the stereotypes that are formed by groups, it is assumed that there is a hierarchy in place where groups are structured in relation to one another (Oktar, ). In accordance to this, Capreiello ( ), suggests that social structures that are in place predict stereotypes and these stereotypes predict emotions.
  3. 3. Within intergroup contexts, there is typically a minimization of intra-group differences and an increase in inter-group differences (Oktar, ). In other words, we see people of the same group more similar and people of separate groups extremely different. This is most often present in time of conflict between groups. Also within our own groups, member tends to feel that their own groups is more endangered that other groups and that your own group is often treated unfairly in comparison to comparable groups (eidenlson). According to Richardson ( ), stimuli can increase the salience of a particular social identity including conflict, competition, unequal distribution of resources, group distinctiveness, in-group similarities, shared fate, interdependence, number of members, and physical proximity. Many of these are relevant to this study being done especially unequal distribution of resources, in-group similarities among those being assisted, and interdependence. Social Categorization Theory Another important aspect of social identity is an additional perspective, social categorization. This focuses more on the differentiation done between opposing groups,
  4. 4. then individuals learn this and adopt the stereotypes that are given to their own group (Hargie, ). Here, people are categorized then viewed through that stereotype lens which depersonalizes our perception of people (hogg). Not only does this affect how other people are viewed, it also works to categorize us. This process of identifying people by the groups in which they are involved in works to give us our identities and compose the behavior in which we act out. Prior research of this topic informs that in fact, social identities are extremely relevant to the daily lives of individuals and their interaction between other individuals of the same group as well as other groups. This study will be conducted to apply this topic to a specific relationship that has yet to be studied. It is important to perform research on the interaction between volunteers and those they assistance to better know the implications that come from their affiliation. Intergroup Relations An individual’s awareness of group memberships and differences between groups can be explained by group salience (hajek). In many intergroup contexts, the individual sees themselves as first a member of particular group and then they are able
  5. 5. to concentrate on the intergroup relationships that are taking place (Weisr). With this study, there is a high level of group salience between volunteers and those they are helping. Along with this, with this previous research, volunteers first see themselves as volunteers prior to interacting with the other group. The same occurs with the other group, they see themselves as a part of a group such as those of a older generation. Once the two groups come into contact the volunteers see themselves as helping other individuals of another group and the other group sees themselves as being helped. A large factor in how groups relate to one another is much a member is typical of their group and acts out the stereotype given to them, called outgroup typicality (Hajek). A specific way in which the participants in this study might be looked at is in conjunction with the communication accommodation theory. This theory looks at how people of different groups accommodate, underaccomodate, or over accommodate the people in which they are communicating with (Hajek). Because accommodation is done on such a personal level because topics such as interest and feelings are talked about, it is often perceived as a positive act (Rittneour, ). When underaccomodation occurs, a negative perception occurs.
  6. 6. Intergroup dialogue is rooted in Western culture and it may occur once or overtime to give individuals and groups a safe and structured opportunity to explore various societal issues. Participants are socially encouraged to suspend assumptions, collaborate willingly, believe in all participants, speak from experience, and be open to new ideas and possibilities for the group (Dessel). Dessel, Rogge, and Garlington ( as cited in Dessel). This research sets up a foundation for how intergroup relationships take place on a general basis. The current study will bring new information to how more specific groups interact with each other so that their relationship can be improved if needed. Self-Image Self images are a result of an individual’s personal experiences with the environment and one’s own evaluations of these experiences (Moller). These experiences come from people that are close to us, concrete feedback, and causal attributions. Disidentification can been seen through cynicism, humor, skepticism, and irony and for the most part is viewed as a negative occurrence. Dis-identification can also
  7. 7. have positives when people seek out to find who “they really are” (Castas, ) The proposed study will provide more information to the combination of the preceding research of social identity, intergroup interactions and self-image. By investigating the relationships that volunteers and those they assist, the researcers hope to gain insight on the outcomes of the relationships and more importantly, how they can be improved.