Thursday, April 03, 2008

Clubs, Groups, and Organization

Club Mormon: Free-Riders, Monitoring, and Exclusion in the LDS Church

Michael McBride
Rationality and Society, November 2007, Pages 395-424

The Mormon Church is best understood as a club, in the economics sense of
the term. It succeeds, in part, because it identifies and selectively
rewards high contributors, thereby limiting free-riding and producing large
religious benefits for its members. First, it offers a menu of club goods of
varying excludability, with the most valued goods excluded from
less-committed members. Second, to enforce this menu, it actively monitors
its members using a sophisticated administrative structure. The menu design
reflects to an extent the costs of excludability of various religious goods,
and the menu-monitoring approach implicitly allows some free-riding to
dynamically foster commitment. Because the menu-monitoring approach is best
understood as complementing other methods in achieving the Mormon Church's
religious goals, these findings yield insights into the activities of other
religious groups.


Conservatism, Institutionalism, and the Social Control of Intergroup

Ryan King
American Journal of Sociology, March 2008, Pages 1351–1393

This research investigates the state social control of intergroup conflict by assessing the sociopolitical determinants of hate crime prosecutions. Consistent with insights from the political sociology of punishment, group-threat accounts of intergroup relations and the state, and neoinstitutional theory, the findings suggest that hate crime prosecutions are fewer where political conservatism, Christian fundamentalism, and black population size are higher, although this last effect is nonlinear. Linkages between district attorneys' offices and communities, on the other hand, increase hate crime prosecutions and the likelihood of offices' creating hate crime policies. Yet these policies are sometimes decoupled from actual enforcement, and such decoupling is more likely in politically conservative districts. The results indicate that common correlates of criminal punishment have very different effects on types of state social control that are protective of minority groups, and also suggest conditions under which policy and practice become decoupled in organizational settings.

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