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The Structural Contexts of Civic Engagement: Voluntary Association Membership in Comparative Perspective

Evan Schofer and Marion Fourcade-Gourinchas
American Sociological Review
Vol. 66, No. 6 (Dec., 2001), pp. 806-828
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/3088874
Page Count: 23
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The Structural Contexts of Civic Engagement: Voluntary Association Membership in Comparative Perspective
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Abstract

Voluntary association membership varies dramatically among nations, by both the number and the type of associations that people join. Two distinctions account for much of this variation: (1) the distinction between statist versus nonstatist (sometimes called "liberal") societies, and (2) the distinction between corporate versus noncorporate societies. These two dimensions summarize historically evolved differences in state structure, political institutions, and culture of nations that channel, legitimate (or deligitimate), and encourage (or discourage) various types of associational activity. Membership in associations in 32 countries is examined using data from the 1991 World Values Survey; hierarchical models estimate the effects of individual-level and country-level factors on individual association membership. Results show that statism constrains individual associational activity of all types, particularly in "new" social movement associations. Corporateness positively affects membership, particularly for "old" social movements. Finally, temporal trends indicate some convergence toward Anglo-American patterns of association.

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