Between atomistic and participatory democracy: Leverage, leadership, and legitimacy in Israeli civil society

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Abstract

Although a great deal of research on civic engagement has been based on individual survey responses, there is emerging consensus for the need to better understand the civic opportunities provided by a given organizational context. This article develops a conceptual model to examine the different reasons why organizations would choose to invest in a membership-recruiting strategy despite the significant investment this strategy requires. The case study analysis of interest group associations in Israel confirms the hypothesis of an increased use of membership as an organizational strategy for building policy influence. The organizations are shown to be more interested over time in developing political leverage for influencing policy-making processes. Membership is viewed primarily as a strategy for rhetorical or symbolic legitimation for one organization, but even this organization uses membership as a tool for gaining greater leverage resources. Yet the findings are not optimistic regarding the focus on developing civic leadership.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)429-459
Number of pages31
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Volume39
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - 13 May 2010
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Civil society
  • Interest groups
  • Israel
  • Leadership

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