ABSTRACT

For sociologists, churches are themselves ‘voluntary’ organisations, and examining voluntary organisations outside, between, and within churches raises some interesting questions about the dynamics of affiliation and interorganisational relationships. Religious voluntary organisations which are formally outside of established denominations compete for resources normally secured by denominations. Interdenominational special purpose groups link organisations which may have vested interests in maintaining separation – organisationally if not ideologically. Movements within religious organisations can fragment constituencies, leading to a loss of community or even outright conflict. Understanding how voluntary organisations relate to one another in their quest for resources requires, in my estimation, a focus on the preferences of constituents. However, preferences alone do not dictate choices about affiliation and commitment, since people are also constrained by social relations that may force particular choices and preclude others.