chapter  11
ORGANIZING CAPACITY OF SOCIETIES AND MODERNITY
ByBernhard Wessels
Pages 23

Voluntary organizations serve many purposes for society and democracy. Without organizations, integration and participation would be quite limited in social as well as political terms. One might even go further and argue that there would be no society and no democracy if there were no organizations. Depending on concepts, one could state that civil society-or at least essential parts of it-is constituted by voluntary associations; organization empowers the many (see Rueschemeyer, Huber Stephens and Stephens 1992). Theory of mass society holds that the existence of and interaction in a network of intermediate, secondary relations provides a major bulwark against atomization, alienation and division of the individual (Cutler 1973:133). However, the positive features of voluntary organizations depend on their capability to get people organized. It is the ‘organizing capacity’ of a society, to use Stinchcombe’s term (Stinchcombe 1965:150), that determines the degree of inclusion of citizens in voluntary associations.