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Socialization to Heroism: Individualism and Collectivism in a Voluntary Search and Rescue Group

Jennifer Lois
Social Psychology Quarterly
Vol. 62, No. 2, Special Issue: Qualitative Contributions to Social Psychology (Jun., 1999), pp. 117-135
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2695853
Page Count: 19
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Socialization to Heroism: Individualism and Collectivism in a Voluntary Search and Rescue Group
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Abstract

In this paper I examine the tension between self-interested individualism and norms of self-sacrifice in a volunteer search and rescue group in the western United States. I draw on 3 1/2 years of ethnographic fieldwork to highlight how individuals were socialized to membership by conforming to the group norms along three general dimensions: the consciousness they displayed, the resources they provided, and the commitment they developed. Within each of these dimensions, I identify stages denoting members' change in status from new member to peripheral member to core member, and I show how those who achieved core membership were granted heroic status. I conclude by examining how the meanings of this symbolic reward, heroic status, guided members' behavior, producing a layered stage model of organizational socialization that helped them to reconcile their own interests with those of the group.

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