Sigrid Roßteutscher, Jan W. van Deth
Associations between Associations. The Structure of the Voluntary Association Sector

Mannheimer Zentrum für Europäische Sozialforschung: Arbeitspapiere; 56
ISSN: 1437-8574

Civil society is characterised by a virtual endless number of very different clubs, organisations, groups, and associations. Usually, simple additive measures and factor analytical techniques are used to analyse the structure of the voluntary sector and to obtain indicators for social engagement. In this paper, we present several alternative explorative approaches (principal components analysis, cluster analysis, multidimensional scaling) in order to overcome the conceptual and empirical difficulties of conventional methods. Data are taken from a comprehensive study of the entire voluntary sector in a medium-sized German city. A taxonomy of voluntary associations is presented based on the common latent structures found in different analyses.