Civil Society Organizations and the Enduring Role of Religion in Promoting Democratic Engagement
VOLUNTAS: International Journal of Voluntary and Nonprofit Organizations
As Tocqueville observed the emergence of democracy in the USA, he noted the central role religion played in undergirding democratic life. Nearly 200 years later, it is unclear whether religion continues to possess sufficient capacity to promote democratic engagement. This study links organizational theory with research on the structural and cultural characteristics of civil society organizations (CSOs) to assess the current impact of religion on democracy. It analyzes original data from a national study of politically oriented CSOs to determine whether drawing on structural characteristics of religious congregations and cultural elements of religion helps the organizations promote democratic engagement. The analysis finds a positive relationship between organizations that incorporate structural and cultural forms of religion and their organizing capacity, political access, and mobilizing capacity. These findings suggest that religion, mediated by congregations and religious culture, retains sufficient civic vitality to help politically oriented CSOs foster democratic engagement.
Accepted manuscript, postprint version
Fulton, Brad R. and Richard L. Wood. “Civil Society Organizations and the Enduring Role of Religion in Promoting Democratic Engagement.” Voluntas 29:1068-79.
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