For the Common Good? American Civic Life and the Golden Age of Fraternity
Jason KaufmanISBN: 0195148576;
The Golden Age of Fraternity was a unique time in American History. "Jinners"--and from 1870-1910 more than half of all Americans participated in clubs, fraternities, militias, and mutual benefit societies--helped create a booming associational life in America between the Civil and First World Wars. Today this period is held up as a model for a revitalization of contemporary civil society. But what if these much-admired voluntary organizations more often served parochial reasons than the general good? This work aims to dispel many of the myths about the curative powers of clubbing while bringing to light the hidden lessons therein. Relying on extensive analysis of city directories, club histories and membership lists, Kaufman shows that organizational activity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries had more to do with pragmatic interests than with civic engagement. The rise of associational life began with organizations that helped cover the increasing cost of burial in the decades...
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