Institutional Support for Morality

Community-based and Neighborhood Organizations
  • Constance Flanagan
Part of the Issues in Children’s and Families’ Lives book series (IICL, volume 5)


In their study of the factors that explain Americans’ participation in collective action, Verba and his colleagues question the logic of rational choice theories that hold that citizens will refrain from activity on behalf of a collective good. Because individuals reap the benefits of collective goods whether or not they participate in the political process, rational choice theory suggests that it is smart for citizens to save their resources and abstain from community involvement, to “take a free ride.” Verba et al. state: “The puzzle of participation, thus, becomes: how are we to explain the fact that millions of citizens, in apparent defiance of this elegant logic, vote or take part in various kinds of voluntary activity on behalf of collective ends?” The authors’ answer is that the benefit of participation includes the satisfaction gained from “doing one’s share to make the community, nation, or world a better place.” This chapter argues that participation in community-based or neighborhood organizations (hereafter referred to as CBOs or CBYOs for community-based youth organizations) nurtures a civic ethic in young people. By engaging in such groups, youths learn that “bearing the cost becomes part of the benefit” (Verba et al., 1995, pp. 100–103).


Young People Civic Engagement Juvenile Justice Social Trust Restorative Justice 


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© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2004

Authors and Affiliations

  • Constance Flanagan

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