Between 1960 and 1990, the total number of US national associations quadrupled. Professional advocacy groups proliferated, lobbying and litigating for social change in Washington, D.C.—at the expense, some say, of broadbased engagement through traditional civic membership organizations. “Our findings tell a different story,” says Edward Walker, assistant professor of sociology at the University of California, Los Angeles. “At the same time that you saw those nonmembership...

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