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Volunteering in Armenia: Leaving the Soviet Legacy Behind?

Yevgenya Jenny Paturyan and Valentina Gevorgyan

Introduction

Volunteering, either formal or informal, is a vital activity that helps sustain a social fabric. While volunteering can be studied from a general perspective, as something inherited in the nature of social interaction, taking into consideration the context in which volunteering occurs (or fails to occur) can enrich our understanding of this phenomenon and shed some light on country-specific or regional patterns. This work discusses one such important context factor: the political regime of communism and the extent of its lasting legacy, using Armenia as an example.

In this chapter, we combine quantitative data on volunteering in Armenia with insights gained through a qualitative approach to patterns and realities of volunteering in Armenia. We use Armenia as a case study to illustrate problems faced by a typical post-communist country in transition, as it strives to revitalize the culture of volunteering and rehabilitate the image of a volunteer, heavily compromised by the communist legacy. We also discuss some relevant data on the South Caucasus, thereby placing Armenia in its regional context. We hypothesize that weakening of communist legacy should be particularly pronounced when comparing generational cohorts, as the young people who were not exposed to Soviet institutions should not bear their negative mark. In terms of volunteering, younger people should be more likely to volunteer, as they did not experience forced inclusion in associations and pseudo-voluntary activities .

With its qualitative enquiry, the paper pursues to explore how people become involved in formal volunteering with organizations and what motivates them. We look at differences in these motivations reported by both volunteers themselves and leaders of the organizations for which they volunteer. We use qualitative data not

Y.J. Paturyan (*) • V. Gevorgyan

Turpanjian Center for Policy Analysis, American University of Armenia, Yerevan, Armenia e-mail: This email address is being protected from spam bots, you need Javascript enabled to view it

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

J. Butcher, C.J. Einolf (eds.), Perspectives on Volunteering, Nonprofit and Civil Society Studies, DOI 10.1007/978-3-319-39899-0_12

only to triangulate some of the quantitative data, but also to gain insights into motives and perceptions of volunteers and those who work with them in the organizations.

 
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