The Joiners; a Sociological Description of Voluntary Association Membership in the United States

The Joiners; a Sociological Description of Voluntary Association Membership in the United States

The Joiners; a Sociological Description of Voluntary Association Membership in the United States

The Joiners; a Sociological Description of Voluntary Association Membership in the United States

Excerpt

While class and community size are clearly important determinants of voluntary association membership, it is equally obvious that membership will vary with other aspects of the life situations of individuals. Thus, we may hypothesize that membership rates will be determined by such things as sex and marriage roles as well as by religion, race, etc. In the present chapter we shall be concerned with the influence of some of these other variables; those which can be thought of as representing aspects of the life cycle of individuals. In view of the critical role of class and urbanization, we shall examine, whenever feasible in this and the following chapter, the extent to which relationships are conditioned by these variables.

Sex and Membership

As can be seen from Table 3:1, men and women join associations in equal numbers. Thus the AIPO survey found that 54 per cent of the men and 57 per cent of the women are members of associations while the NORC survey reports that 36 per cent of each sex belongs. This lack of difference between the sexes with respect to membership is uneffected by class factors. In Tables 3:2A and 3:2B, which report the relationship between income, sex, and membership, we see that the rate of membership for both men and women increases as the level of income increases. So, for example, about one-fourth of the men and women in the lowest income group of Table 3:2B are members whereas 46 per cent of the men and 49 per cent of women with family incomes of at least $5000 a year are voluntary association members. Similarly with education: In Tables 3:3A and 3:3B we find that the greater the level of educational attainment the greater the membership rate for both sexes. In Table 3:2A, for example, less than half of the men and women with an elementary school education are members, but about 75 per cent of both sexes who had a college education are affiliated with voluntary associations.

When we raise the question of possible differences in membership rates between men and women within each class the evidence is inconsistent. The AIPO survey results, Table 3:2A, show that 47 per cent . . .

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