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Wollebaek, D., Selle, P. (2002). Does Participation in Voluntary Associations Contribute to Social Capital? The Impact of Intensity, Scope, and Type. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 31 (1) 32-61.

Voluntary associations are often ascribed a fundamental role in the formation of social capital. However, scholars disagree on the extent to which face-to-face contact, that is, active participation, is necessary to create this resource. This article examines the impact of participation in associations on social capital using three dimensions: intensity (active vs. passive participation), scope (many vs. few affiliations) and type (nonpolitical vs. political purpose). Whereas those affiliated display higher levels of social capital than outsiders, the difference between active and passive members is absent or negligible. The only cumulative effect of participation occurs when a member belongs to several associations simultaneously, preferably with different purposes. The article challenges the notion that active participation is necessary for the formation of social capital and suggests that more attention should be paid to the importance of passive and multiple affiliations within associations.


Wollebæk, Dag

Selle, Per

Per Selle has his degree in political Science from the Department of Comparative Politics at the Universitety of Bergen 1986. He has his main position at the Department of Comparative Politics.

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