Delimiting democracy? Media representations of volunteerism

Georgina Corrine Grosenick
Communications Studies, University of Calgary
September, 2004
 

Abstract

The objective of this thesis is to explore how one of the more powerful cultural discourses in society, the mass media, represents volunteerism. Volunteerism is a practice that is important to society and an essential component of democratic culture. An empirical study was conducted using content and critical discourse analysis to examine a sample of media reports about volunteerism from two national and two regional newspapers. An emphasis was placed on comparing media discourse surrounding service volunteerism and advocacy volunteerism. The study found that the media reports did not represent the full spectrum and role of volunteerism’s contribution to society and that service and advocacy volunteerism were framed differently. This pattern of discourse has the potential to influence the sustainability of the voluntary sector and in turn, delimit our democracy.
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We wish to acknowledge the financial support of the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council for their financial support through theAid to Scholarly Journals Program.

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