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date: 19 April 2021

Abstract and Keywords

This article proposes a new and better concept of civic culture and shows how it can benefit sociology. It argues that a better concept of civic culture gives us a stronger, comparative, and contextual perspective on voluntary associations—the conventional American empirical referent for “civic”—while also improving our sociologies of religion and social movements. The article first considers the classic perspective on civic culture and its current incarnations in order to show why we need better conceptual groundwork than they have offered. It then introduces the alternative approach, which is rooted in a pragmatist understanding of collective action and both builds on and departs in some ways from newly prominent understandings of culture in sociology. This approach’s virtues are illustrated with ethnographic examples from a variety of volunteer groups, social movement organizations, and religious associations.

Keywords: civic culture, sociology, voluntary associations, religion, social movements, collective action, culture, volunteer groups, religious associations

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