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Hajnalka Fenyes (ed.) (2015). Volunteering and new type of volunteering among the higher education students. [Onkentesseg es uj tipusu onkentesseg a felsooktatasi hallgatok koreben.] Debrecen: Debrecen University Press.
Reviewed by Valeria Markos[1] & Karolina Eszter Kovacs[2]
The monograph of Hajnalka Fenyes is unique also in Hungary and across the border. On the one hand, there are really few monograph which collect studies about volunteering in large numbers and on the other hand this monograph deal with the special group of volunteers such as the higher education students volunteering. There are researches about adult’s and young people’s voluntary work but there are not researches about higher education student’s volunteering in Hungary. There are studies about higher educational student’s volunteering in the international literature but these examine mostly the new type of volunteering. The international comparative examinations don’t investigate the Central and Eastern Europe countries’ attitudes toward volunteering. In view of these factors, it is very important to examine the higher educational student’s volunteering in Central and Eastern Europe according to the author. She examined the students volunteering from 2012 to 2015 with quantitative and qualitative researches, too. Her experiences are presented by papers which enhance the Hungarian voluntary literature.
This monograph is especially based on the results of quantitative researches but there is a study which is researched by qualitative methods (with individual interviews and a focus group interview). The monograph favours to the foreign language lovers because it contains not only Hungarian language studies but three English language studies too. The author examines in two papers the University of Debrecen student’s voluntary work and in other five studies she examines the students also in Romania and Ukraine. These studies are mostly sociological researches but we can also find social psychological studies.
The monograph's main examined themes are higher education students’ volunteering motivations and types; the religiosity and the values of students’ connection with the voluntary work, the gender differences in volunteering and finally the pedagogical and non-pedagogical students’ voluntary differences. According to the definition, volunteering has four main criteria: (1) it is not obligatory, (2) it is done for the other people’s benefit, (3) it is not a paid activity, (4) it is mostly done in an organizational framework. The author emphasizes that today the number of volunteering doesn’t decrease but the meaning of the volunteering is changing. Years before the volunteers were motivated by traditional/altruistic values (helping others, being useful for the society, doing something for others, protection of his/her own or others’ rights, protecting interests of a special group). Today, for the young people are very important the new types of motivations (making friends, meeting people with similar interest, spending leisure time, learning and practicing sports and cultural activities, gaining information, developing an practicing skills, getting a job more easily, enlarging human capital). The young people’s motivations are the new, flexible and non-regulated volunteering. According to the literature, in Hungary the motivations for volunteering among the young generation were those such as belonging to a community, challenge, professional development, spending leisure-time in a useful way and making new friendships. The mixed motivation type is frequent among young generation: e.g. helping others with modern type of motivations is important for the students. In regard of gender; the volunteering is not more frequent among the women. Both men and women are characterized by mixed motivations nowadays. Beside the traditional motivations (helping for others) other aspects are important (developing and practicing skill) for the women.
The volunteering has a several positive effect: it increases the person’s civic awareness and political activity, it promotes the social and professional socialization, it protects the person from the anti-social behaviour, increases the mental and physical health, the social and economic performance, help the young people to the carrier building, expanding the connection network and the volunteering and the voluntary work has motivating effect to the further education. The volunteering has not only individual but social benefits as well. For example, it is useful for different social problems solving (unemployment, anomie) and there are significant economic, social, political and social psychological functions too.
According to the literature and the results of Hajnalka Fenyes, the value preference and religiosity affect volunteering to a larger extent than someone’s social background or gender. According to the data, the volunteering is more frequent in Romania and Ukraine than in Hungary. The reason is that in Ukraine and Romania the civil sector is relatively underdeveloped in comparison with other countries and the students defined voluntary activity differently. Another reason is that in Ukraine and Romania the economic situation is worse than in Hungary which may induce solidarity and volunteering among people. According to the results, in Romania the regular churchgoing is more popular than in the other two countries so this drew the author’s attention to the effect of religiosity on volunteering.
The monograph’s other aims were to motivate the young people to volunteering and the popularization of volunteering. The author reflects on our civic responsibility which is doing for the society and one form is the volunteering. According to Hajnalka Fenyes’s results, from 2005 to 2010 the number of the volunteering workers doubled in the University of Debrecen. It shows that the voluntary work was becoming more popular among the university students. Unfortunately this number is still lower than in other developed country. According to the qualitative researches, the reason of the low number of voluntary workers is the following: the university students have a little free time, they have no information from the voluntary factor and the bad financial situation also discourages them from the volunteering. The demographic variables such as age or gender did not affect volunteering among higher education students at the University of Debrecen. The students of mothers with degree and the wealthier students volunteered more frequently at this university which may be due to the fact that University of Debrecen is situated in a relatively underdeveloped region in Hungary. Those students who have better social and material background could afford to do volunteering in this region. According to the author’s results, religiosity increased the volunteering. Those higher educational students who were volunteers preferred e.g. helping others more than those who were not. It is very important to motivate the young students for volunteering and to emphasize the importance of volunteering.
The authors find connection between values and volunteering. Firstly, they formed factors from student’s value structure. The value background of voluntary work is becoming mixed. Those who do voluntary work regularly reached material and postmodern characteristics on the first hand and conservative characteristics on the other hand higher values than the average. The connection between values and volunteering is demonstrated by certain items of the values and the explaining force of hedonistic and intellectual factor in their model.
In the volunteer point of view, the author compares the pedagogical students with the non-pedagogical students. Although the pedagogical profession is a helping profession, the pedagogical students don’t work more frequent than non-pedagogical students. But the data shows that the motivation of those pedagogical students who work as a volunteer is more traditional and it is very important for them to help other. The author emphasizes that it is important to motivate the pedagogical students for volunteering because they will set an example for the future generations.
Today, we need to deal with the volunteering and it is necessary to emphasize the importance of it. The volunteering has personal and social benefit as well and it is the basis of the active citizenship. This bottom-up method contributes to the experimental learning, greater civic knowledge, social responsibility and more care taking about relationship with others. Our civic obligation is to recognize the social problems and our duties as citizens are to help those who are less fortunate than us. The voluntary work is useful for the individuals also because it contributes to their own ability, their skills development and it helps to advance their careers. Volunteering improves the employment prospects by increasing their human capital which means that for those people who are engaged in in volunteering activity is more likely a higher level of global citizenship. Formal and informal groups are often created during the volunteering as well. They are expanding their social contacts which help to find better jobs. Volunteering is a possibility to find jobs easily especially in those countries where the unemployment rate is high.
In this monograph the authors and co-authors concentrate to the most important and most interesting questions of the volunteering. The studies are logically well-structured and their style is scientific and readable as well. The authors and co-authors in the studies of theoretical part were thoroughly explored with the help of Hungarian and international literatures. In the empirical, part the authors use high level of quantitative research methods to analyse their hypotheses. The results can be the basis of future researches.
As a summary the followings can be said that it is very important and relevant to motivate the young people for volunteering and to emphasize their lifelong volunteering because the early volunteering leads to later volunteering as well.
[1] University of Debrecen, Hungary
[2] University of Debrecen, Hungary