Correlates of social participation in American Jewish communities
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This study attempts to account for the differences in formal social participation in 140 Jewish communities in the United States, with professionally administered Jewish federations, via differences in social structure. Participation was operationalized as rates of; giving to the local Jewish federation, synagogue membership, membership in Jewish organizations and membership in Jewish Community Centers.;The study tests three main hypotheses: (1) There is an inverse relationship between rates of participation in communities and the absolute number of Jews. (2) There is an inverse relationship between rates of participation and the relative number of Jews in a city. (3) There is an inverse relationship between rates of community population growth and rates of participation. The relationship between rates of intermarriage and rates of participation was also explored. Region was also tested as an independent variable.;Each of the hypotheses was supported by the data. A regression equation based on the three hypothesized variables (relative and absolute size of community and change in community size) explained almost 40% of the variance in rates of federation giving. The other operational measures also supported the hypotheses. However the results were less dramatic. Rates of intermarriage had an inverse relationship to rates of giving. This seeming paradoxical relationship was explained using Blau and Schwartz' (1984) macro structural theory, which posits that the smaller the group, the more cohesive and the greater number of out group relations. This study also provides additional support for their work. Although cities in the south had higher rates of giving, after controlling for size, region had no independent effect.;This study has implications for understanding factors that effect community life. The equation derived and the trends documented can be applied by practitioners in establishing more realistic expectations of communal rates of participation, for example rates of giving, and aid in establishing more realistic goals and approaches for intervention.