Sociology, Department of


Date of this Version

March 1977


Published in Social Science Quarterly 57:4 (March 1977; New Perspectives on Black America), pp. 892-898. Copyright © 1977 University of Texas Press. Published in cooperation with the Southwestern Sociological Association.


The burgeoning research in recent years on participation in voluntary associations has led to a generally consistent, cumulative literature. From these studies we now know a great deal about who affiliates with what kind of organizations and why. As with most areas of inquiry, however, certain issues remain unresolved. With respect to minority participation, an important and unanswered question has been: Do black Americans have a higher or lower rate of social participation than their white counterparts? Although seemingly a simple question to answer, contradictory findings have led to considerable, and sometimes heated, debate which has lasted for many years. Using a national probability sample, this note will answer the question and in so doing will show why this question has posed such a problem for researchers.

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