Volunteerism in Disaster Situations

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Disaster Research Center
The effects of a natural disaster extend beyond the visible and tangible damage caused to the physical surroundings, and also involve a qualitative change in the nature of society. There is a change from a Gesellschaft-style society to one where relationships and interaction between people are based on Gemeinschaft-style sentiments. An analysis of the reaction of volunteers in such situations must accordingly take account of this transformed nature of society. Modern impersonal society normally provides little reason or scope for voluntaristic or altruistic actions. Inasmuch as there is volunteerism, it is generally channeled through some organized or organizational means. In contrast to this, disaster often evokes many and varied instances of volunteer activity, part of it in terms of previously planned organization, much of it spontaneous on a group or individual basis. Such a response, different from normal social life, is a consequence of the transformation whereby the basic sentiments shift from Gesellschaft to Gemeinschaft. Since even those organizations geared to disaster activities reach their maximum response through the utilization of volunteer activity, an awareness of transformation, coupled with a judicious utilization of volunteers, would contribute to the overall effectiveness of such organizations.
volunteerism, Gesellshaft -style society, Gemeninschaft-style Society, social enviroment