Date of Award

Spring 2002

Document Type



Sociology & Anthropology

First Advisor

Murphy Fox

Second Advisor

Elizabeth Chute

Third Advisor

Annette Moran


This qualitative research study focuses on the volunteers at La Baclesse Hospital who visit terminally ill cancer patients, in order to explore the motivations behind such action and how these motivations affect the volunteers, and society. Drawing from interviews conducted in Caen, France, six La Baclesse volunteers responded to open-ended questions, focusing on the reasons to begin and to continue their volunteer efforts. The data shows the volunteers began at La Baclesse for diverse reasons, ranging from spirituality to altruism. Most volunteers had previous ties to volunteering which encouraged them to begin at La Baclesse, and volunteers had quite similar motivations to continue volunteering including benefits to patients, and the volunteer's personal gain. The data specifically illustrates the value of the social capital involved in volunteering, and how that relates to the motivations to volunteer. Further study on volunteers could greatly complement and extend this research, particularly in regards to terminally ill patients, and, in turn, could lead toward a better understanding of social capital in volunteering and the role volunteering plays in the lives of those performing it.