Saw this article in New York Magazine, talking about the increase in volunteering and civic-minded activities as a result of the recession. Kind of confirms the survey results that more people will volunteer this year, and a percentage of those will volunteer abroad.
How the Recession Might Change NYC For Better…
Recently, Vohs has been looking at what happens when her subjects spend time reflecting on money they’ve lost. She believes it’s a fairly good proxy for a recession mentality. What she’s found so far, she says, is that they’re more sensitive to physical pain—and social rejection. “Though I haven’t yet done the research,” she continues, “it would follow that they’d be more cooperative.”
Writ large, this finding could have interesting ramifications. It could mean that a financial calamity would create a more neighborly, civic-minded city.
There may well be an element of wishful thinking in this hypothesis. But history shows that one effect of economic reversals of fortune can be to coax people beyond their own self-interest. “After the Depression,” says Jackson Lears, the Rutgers historian and editor of the Raritan Review, “there was a kind of celebration of the group over the individual. It might have had its conformist side, but it’s what ultimately fed the programs of the New Deal—they were attempts to systematize what was already happening locally.” (Indeed, many of the New Deal’s architects were New Yorkers, including Robert F. Wagner and Franklin Delano Roosevelt himself.)