• Nadia Stephanie Juulskov Aarø
4. term, Learning and Innovative Change, Master (Master Programme)
This thesis investigates the effects of volunteering work on a group of young psychologically vulnerable peoples’ learning, identities and world of life. The methodology is based on qualitative semi-structured interviews of four psychologically vulnerable people in the age range 22 to 29 years old. The interviews were all conducted either at home by the interviewees or in a public café, chosen by the interviewees themselves, to make the interviewees feel as comfortable as possible.
The theoretical approach is based largely on the work of Knud Illeris and his research within lifelong learning - especially his definition of learning, theory on the triangle of learning, learning and development of identity, and transformative learning is used directly in the analysis and discussion of the empirical data. The analysis is based on the reflections of the interviewees themselves, and it assumes that the volunteering experience, as told by the interviewees themselves, is the environment of their learning activity and therefore, their depiction of the volunteering experience is the foundation of their individual learning, rather than what is actually done, could be observed or understood by a third party in practice.
The empirical data from the 4 cases is first analyzed individually with respect to learning, develop-ment of identity and transformative learning, and then the findings from all cases are discussed and reflected upon.
First, it is found that while all the interviewees struggle to maintain personal relations, isolate them-selves and, in some cases, take a break from their studies, they still have mental energy for the volunteering work. This is found to be due to high expectations of commitment and low rewards in the educational context versus the low expectations of commitment (or self-adjustable level of commitment) and high personal recognition in the volunteering context.
Second, with relation to their personal development, the volunteering work results in recognition, which helps them increase their self-esteem and their perception of their vulnerability. The nature of the volunteering work is crucial in this context, as it both revolves around them socializing with other psychologically vulnerable young people and requires them to be open about the psychological vulnerability to a range of audiences. This causes them to undergo a mental shift in the way they see themselves. Furthermore, they receive appraisal and positive recognition from an audience, which helps them develop their self-image.
Third, the volunteering work helps them incorporate some structure into their daily lifes and gives them a sort of purpose. This is, for some of the cases, crucial for them to work towards being able to maintain an education or a work life. For all cases, the young people acquire a set of qualifications or skills – they become increasingly confident in their ability to speak in front of a crowd and be the center of attention, and their leadership abilities and social abilities increase. This fact also helps prepare them to be more incorporated into the “normal” society.
Their success in the volunteering world is linked to a general societal trend within knowledge, where a shift of trust towards personal and relatable information rather than systematic and traditional learning is seen. This causes the type of volunteering they do, where they spread personal information regarding psychological vulnerability, to flourish and receive recognition. Engaging in this type of volunteering work, and receiving much appraisal through it, also causes them to base their professional identity on the role of the psychological vulnerable person. This may, in the long run, cause them to stay in this role for longer, than if they had received this type of recognition within an unrelated field.
It is concluded that engaging in volunteering work has several positive effects on the learning, identity and world of life for the 4 psychologically vulnerable young people: They develop professional competences directly transferable to an education or work life, and they become increasingly aware and accepting of their vulnerability and general situation. Furthermore, they have increased self-esteem and self-confidence through the realization that people accept them as they are and that they have a unique set of competences because of their psychological vulnerability. Lastly, the volunteering work has helped them structure their daily life and incorporate a sense of purpose.
Publication date17 Aug 2020
Number of pages97
ID: 339173909