Edited by Yaojun Li
Chapter 3: The flow of soul: a sociological study of generosity in England and Wales (2001–2011)
The free and bounteous giving of one’s time, effort and treasures for good causes and for the benefit of others is an important indicator of civic health in our national life. The time and effort devoted to civic activities, the time and care given to the weak, feeble and others in need beyond one’s kin, and the money donated to charitable causes are all manifestations of generosity in society. How are the three domains of generosity related to one another in their patterns and trends in British society? Which socio-demographic factors are most strongly associated with pro-social behaviours? Did the economic recession that started in 2008 have any notable effect on formal and informal social involvement and altruistic behaviour? And to what extent is the pattern of charitable giving in Britain similar to or different from that in the US? In this analysis, we try to address these questions by analysing the three domains of generosity in England and Wales and exploring their socioeconomic-cultural determinants. Using the Home Office Citizenship Survey (HOCS) covering a period of ten years (2001–11), we find generally high, albeit somewhat falling, rates in volunteering, helping and giving, but the amounts of money given to charitable causes remained at a fairly similar level in spite of the economic crisis that started in 2008. We also find strong class and income effects in the three domains, but ethno-religious effects are weak.
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