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UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Participation in voluntary organizations and status inconsistency Knapen, Joseph Mathijs Peter

Abstract

While it is an established fact that participation in voluntary organizations varies directly with social status, the more complex issue of the relationship between the pattern of individuals' rank positions in several status hierarchies and participation still remains unsettled. The purpose of this study is to reexamine Lenski's proposition that status inconsistency is an obstacle to participation in voluntary organizations. The reasoning behind this proposition is that people who have inconsistent, or unequally evaluated, statuses are often exposed to disturbing experiences in social interaction. They react to those experiences with a tendency to avoid or withdraw from certain forms of social intercourse, such as participation in voluntary organizations. It is therefore hypothesized that persons with inconsistent statuses have fewer memberships and are less likely to hold office in voluntary organizations than individuals whose statuses are consistent. The hypotheses are tested in a secondary analysis of survey data for samples of employed adults in two Canadian cities. The status dimensions are education, occupation, and income. Several status inconsistency variables are used, each defined in terms of different combinations of ranks on a pair of status dimensions. The analysis is guided by the assumption that a status inconsistency effect may be conceived as due to statistical interaction between the constituent status variables. Such effects might be present when an additive model of the relationships between two status variables and a given participation variable proves to fit the data inadequately. The analyses, using a dummy-variable multiple regression format, reveal that differences between observed values on the participation variables and the values predicted by a model of additive status effects are generally small and do not show the patterns expected under the hypotheses. Moreover, a nonadditive model, which includes a status inconsistency variable in addition to the two status variables from which it is formed, fails to explain even a moderate amount more variance in the dependent variables than the corresponding additive model. These results suggest that inconsistency between achieved socioeconomic statuses has no appreciable effect on membership or office-holding, over and above the effects of the status variables themselves. The conclusion is that the proposition of a negative association between status inconsistency and participation in voluntary organizations is not supported by the data of this research. It is suggested that these negative findings may be explained in part by dubious assumptions in the status inconsistency argument so far as it relates to participation and by methodological problems associated with identifying status inconsistency effects. However, the idea that frustrating and unpleasant social experiences may adversely affect participation in voluntary organizations is^ sensible and deserves further investigation.

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