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Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences
The year 2018, which was declared the year of the volunteer in Russia, aided in the emergence of such a phenomenon as “silver” volunteerism. This article presents an analysis of the volunteer activity of elderly folk, its features and their participation motives. Volunteerism is conditioned by the potential of an increasingly socially active lifestyle among the elderly, who are prepared to partake in social practices for the benefit of society. Russia’s recently accepted legal documents which regulate volunteerism are aimed at active longevity. Literature and mass-media are mentioning the term “silver” volunteerism more frequently. The author of this article has undertaken the task of defining its meaning. “Silver” volunteerism is considered to be a type of active and ethical life activity for the elderly, which is performed at no cost and for the good of other people, aids in the elderly feeling a connection to community life, as well as sharing their life and professional experience, and which has become one of the conditions for enhancing their sense of dignity, for improving their social well-being, health and independence. The conducted sociological study of volunteer practices among the elderly states that the degree to which they participate in the activities of volunteer organizations varies depending on gender, age, health condition, income, education level and social-professional status. Their primary motives for participating in volunteer activity are as follows: the desire to feel competent, regardless of age; staying in touch with other people; putting their free time to use and escaping a sense of loneliness. For most elderly people, participating in volunteer practices is conditioned by a person’s need to satisfy their personal, individual need to be useful to someone else, as well as their intention to solve their own problems of material and psychological nature. The social portrait of a “silver” volunteer was compiled based on the results of this study. These are mostly women ages 60 to 69, who have a college education, children, and who live by themselves. Most of the respondents are of average material status. A conclusion is drawn that developing volunteer activity among the elderly creates new opportunity for expressing one’s creative potential and social activeness in later stages of life.
volunteering, “silver” volunteering, the older generation, the elderly, motivation, charity, civil society
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