This led to thinking about the overuse of the concept of volunteering. I do not know about you but when the term volunteer comes up I think of blood mobiles, feeding the homeless, giving up a seat to an elderly person. In other words, to some extent, “volunteering” means making a counter-preferential choice.
Whenever someone claims he or she "volunteered," I get worried. Self-styled volunteers are often people want the best of both worlds. They want what they want and they want you to think the are sacrificing. For example, your dean (this has not happened as far as I know) might arrange for a faculty exchange with a highly desirable school and announce “I volunteered to go first.” When you think about it, it’s not much different from the bully in 6th grade who ate your lunchtime sandwich announcing later that he “volunteered” to eat it. This type of volunteering is a use of power and with a reverse twist that produces a Teflon coating. In fact, "volunteering," if used enough, can become an effective way to gain control over resources. The "volunteer" strategy fits nicely with another law professor strategy that I have identified before -- show no passion because that would reveal a weakness.
Some things I have noted about the new volunteers: They are generally from the make nice, do nothing crowd. They are threatened by law and economics but tend to live their lives like the neoclassical rational maximizer. They make it necessary to come up with a new word for those who used to be called volunteers.