Participation in Voluntary Associations
Although voluntary associations provide a means for individuals to increase their social power by banding together, this is more true of some types of people than of others, The middle and upper classes are more likely than the lower classes to enter voluntary associations. St and Freedman [1972, p. 154} summarize the situation as follows All of the work on the topic points to a single direction. Low sociology economic status is highly corrected with low rates of participation and even tower rates of leadership position in organizations An exception appears in the case of black white participation in the United States. In spite of the much larger lower-class propertion of the black population, blades are more active in voluntary associations than whites [WilJiams et al., 1973). Mexican-Americans, by contrast, tend to “have a lower rate of participation, although they show some recent evidence of increasing participation [Kutner, 19761- In the 1960 s the’ “War on-lovely sought to stimulate organization of poor people in voluntary associations. The effort was not very successful, as most of the poor never became involved [Moynihan, 1969). Among c. those who did participate, the “least poor” were most represented and black participation .was greater than white [Curtis and Zurcher, 1971]. Yet poor people call be mobilized for effective social action under some circumstances, as .described in Riven and Coward’s Poor Movements: Why They Succeed HerMost voluptuary associations are class-limited, meaning that most members of an association come from- about the same class level. There. are few if any welfare clients in the golf club, or wealthy business own in the Ku Klux Klan. Both rich and poor by to churches but generally not to the’ same churches. , One voluntary association which crosses class lines is the volunteer are department: These departments are the only local defense against fires in many small communities and may also give emergency medical an ambulance service. Members are unpaid they often share in organizing social events for fund raising. A variety of skills, both mechanical and organizational, are needed to operate a volunteer fire department This draws persons from a considerable of class backgrounds [Jacobs, 1976). But in most voluntary associations, as in most friendship groups, members usually come from milar class levels [Fischer, 1977,.p. 77).