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Survey Research and Membership in Voluntary Associations

Frank R. Baumgartner and Jack L. Walker
American Journal of Political Science
Vol. 32, No. 4 (Nov., 1988), pp. 908-928
DOI: 10.2307/2111194
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/2111194
Page Count: 21
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Survey Research and Membership in Voluntary Associations
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Abstract

National surveys of the American electorate conducted regularly since the 1950s do not reflect accurately the growth of the public's involvement in voluntary associations. The problem stems from continued use of standard forms of the question which were last revised in the 1960s. A revised version of the question that takes into account financial contributions and multiple affiliations within group types reveals much greater participation in the American group system. New forms of affiliation have increased the relative importance of certain types of groups more than others. Labor unions, for example, are relatively unaffected by these changes, but charitable and other types of groups are heavily affected. As previous researchers have found, participation in voluntary associations leads to greater political participation, especially where individuals perceive political activities within their groups.

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