Political Behavior

, Volume 25, Issue 2, pp 151-175

First online:

Value Congruence and Convergence Within Voluntary Associations: Ethnocentrism in Belgian Organizations

  • Marc HoogheAffiliated withDepartment of Political Science, Belgian Fund for Scientific Research, Vrije Universiteit Brussel

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The observation of a positive relation between social interaction and tolerance levels is routinely explained by invoking a contact mechanism: interaction with different groups within society leads to abandoning prejudices toward that group. Because of typical high group homogeneity within associations, it seems unlikely that this mechanism could explain the positive effect of associational involvement on tolerance. Therefore, we propose a second, cultural mechanism to explain this relation. Based on the social-psychological process of value convergence, it is assumed that associations where tolerance is perceived as a salient and constitutive value will strengthen this attitude, even if these associations are homogeneous. An analysis of Belgian survey data (N = 1,341) suggests that not all kinds of associations have a negative effect on ethnocentrism, but only rather homogeneous associations with highly educated members and, therefore presumably initially low levels of ethnocentrism.

voluntary associations value congruence ethnocentrism tolerance group effects