Special Interest Society

Special Interest Society : How Membership-based Organizations Shape America

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Membership-based organizations play a central role in our society yet those studying voluntary associations fail to recognize their distinctive characteristics as their impact is profound and our understanding of them severely limited. By analyzing over 400 published histories, this book breaks new ground revealing why they emerge, what they do to shape nearly every profession, trade and personal avocation, and how they influence their members' personal and professional lives and that of the larger society.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 294 pages
  • 154 x 229 x 21mm | 444g
  • Lexington Books
  • Lanham, MD, United States
  • English
  • Reprint
  • 4 tables
  • 0739185381
  • 9780739185384

Review quote

As a longtime fan and former colleague of Amos Hawley, I was delighted to see that James R. Hudson has used Hawley's keen insights about the nature of corporate groups in modern society to examine membership-based organizations in the United States. The book is also packed with interesting observations about the emergence and influence of membership-based organizations in the late 20th century. -- Howard Aldrich, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Special Interest Society: How Membership-based Organizations Shape America reveals that Jim Hudson has taken a neglected topic, essentially organizations of like-minded people, and amassed a fascinating compendium of knowledge about them. He shows that there is a vast range of interests that bring them together, from fruit growers to antique car collectors, and that their organizations have wonderfully interesting, occasionally quirky, stories. Despite the differences in the substantive interests of their members, Hudson finds regular patterns in how they build vibrant, long-lasting, effective organizations. Looking around the world in recent decades, we can see how elusive civil society is, how difficult it is to build and maintain. Following Alexis de Tocqueville, Hudson shows that membership-based organizations are distinctively American and that they support our traditions and structures in many ways. Special Interest Society demonstrates that membership-based organizations are essential building blocks to American democracy itself. -- Harvey M. Choldin, Professor Emeritus, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign This book is best classified as being part of historical sociology, as it feels dated. Hudson (emer., Penn State) himself admits in the preface that there might be controversy about using the human ecology framework for his analysis. But perhaps it is timely in light of the resurgence (in some circles) of acknowledging the validity of sociobiology. By nature, humans are social creatures, no less so when creating formal social organizations, which Hudson, with assistance from his wife, Patricia, note with analysis of an extensive list of professional organizations. In some cases, the purpose of membership organizations included in this list is amusing-e.g., the Prune Bargaining Association. Interest in this book should not be limited to students and scholars of social change. It should be of interest as well to those who identify themselves as organizational theorists and those exploring the concept of professionalism. Summing Up: Recommended. Graduate students, faculty. CHOICEshow more

About James R. Hudson

James R. Hudson, PhD, is professor emeritus at Penn State University and currently serves as the research director for the Melos Institute Patricia A. Hudson, MPsSc is a community psychologist and president of the Melos Institute.show more

Table of contents

Preface Acknowledgments Chapter One: A Voice for Every Interest: A primer on Associations in America Chapter Two: A Brief Perspective of the Contributions Made by MBOs Chapter Three: Emergence Chapter Four: Building and Shaping the Organization Chapter Five: Building the Member Community Chapter Six: I Hear You Knocking...But You Can't Come In Chapter Seven: The Search for Legitimacy Chapter Eight: Promote Chapter Nine: Protect Chapter Ten: Membership-Based Organizations as Change Agents Chapter Eleven: The Future Is Certain Appendix: Membership-Based Organizations Included in the Research Bibliography About the Authorsshow more