3 Nonprofit & Voluntary Sector Q. 1 (1974)

handle is hein.journals/npvolsq3 and id is 1 raw text is: 





















THE SOCIALIZATION AND POLITICIZATION OF VISTA VOLUNTEERS:
SEX AND GENERATIONAL DIFFERENCES*


David Gottlieb
University of Houston


The major purpose of this paper is to identify
differences and similarities among people of
different ages who have shared a common
experience.  The shared experience was
involvement in VISTA--a movement for social
change.  VISTA was initiated in 1964 as part
of the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity.
The programmatic concept as well as the
projected public image was based upon the
idea of a domestic Peace Crops.
     The VISTA goal was to recruit, train,
and place volunteers in varied poverty
settings.  Volunteers were assigned to
different kinds of communities and social
service agencies.  Volunteers, for example,
worked in Job Corps Centers, Community Action
Programs, Indian reservations, migrant camps,
drug education and rehabilitation programs,
and legal service centers.
     Regardless of the setting or specific
task each volunteer was expected to assist
in a process which would enhance the upward
social and economic mobility of the poor.
     In the summer of 1971, at the request of
President Nixon, VISTA as well as Peace Corps,
and other federally funded voluntary programs
were merged into a single centralized agency
entitled ACTION.
     VISTA policy with regard to recruitment
underwent three significant age related
changes from the time of its inception to
the present.  In Stage I the primary emphasis
was upon recruiting volunteers of all ages.
Stage II occurred during the years of student
activism and reflected a policy geared to


*Revised version of a paper delivered at  the 67th
Association. August. 1972.


channelize the energies and commitment of  the
young.  Young people were reminded that  if
they were not part of the solution they were
in fact part of the problem.  Youth,
particularly college students, were challenged
to match their rhetoric with deeds.  Stage
III represents current VISTA policy with
emphasis upon the recruitment of older people
and those with professional certification.
The current recruitment policy is in no  small
part a result of voluntary militancy and
activism which occureed during Stage  II.
     The people studied here were volunteers
who served in VISTA during the years  1965
through 1970.  More specifically our  concern
will be with providing answers to the
following questions:
  1. In what ways are age and sex differences
     associated with variations in the
     reasons volunteers give for their
     enrollment in VISTA?
  2. What differences and similarities  are
     found in expressed political and
     social attitudes of volunteers?   In
     what ways are certain attitudes
     connected with specific age groups?
  3. To what extent does the VISTA experi-
     ence influence political attitude
     change?  How are age and sex associated
     with vulnerability to attitude  change?
     Obviously, people who enroll  in movements
such as VISTA represent a highly selective
population.  Hence, we are not proposing  that
conclusions drawn from these data are
generalizable to other populiations.  At  the


Annual Meetings of the American Sociological

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