Conducive Social Roles and Demographics Influencing Volunteering

  • David H. Smith
  • Lili Wang


This chapter reviews evidence that social statuses, roles, and other demographic variables influence formal volunteering (FV) and association participation. Dominant status theory (DST) predicts greater participation for individuals with a more dominant (valued and preferred by the socio-cultural system) social status or set of these, such as higher socio-economic status (SES) or involvement in a higher status religion (Smith 1994). The validity of Smith’s revised dominant status theory (RDST), as stated here, is compared with the validity of Wilson’s (2000) resource-capital theory (R-CT), which predicts more volunteering for individuals who have more of various kinds of resources-capital. Although differential validation is difficult, we argue that RDST is superior in giving a more nuanced approach to resources that explains their variations in explanatory/predictive power across contemporary societies and over historical time in any society. Recent research by Smith (2016b) on Russian national sample interview data confirms that the psychology of RDST is far more important than the resources of R-CT.


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Copyright information

© The Editor(s) (if applicable) and The Author(s) 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  • David H. Smith
    • 1
  • Lili Wang
    • 2
  1. 1.USA
  2. 2.China

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