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We test whether a larger percentage of non-Whites in neighborhoods decreases associational involvement and build on earlier research in three ways. First, we explicitly consider the ethnic composition of organizations, distinguishing involvement in bridging (with out-group members) and bonding (only in-group members) organizations. Second, we start from constrict theory and test competing sets of predictions derived from conflict and contact theories to explain these relationships. Third, we examine whether relative out-group size affects involvement in different types of voluntary organizations equally. Using data from the 2005 U.S. 'Citizenship, Involvement, Democracy' survey, the percentage of non-Whites in neighborhoods is largely unrelated with associational involvement or perceived ethnic threat. However, perceiving ethnic threat is consistently negatively related with involvement in bridging organizations. Simultaneously, a larger percentage of non-Whites fosters intergroup contact, which is negatively related with perceptions of ethnic threat and involvement in bonding leisure organizations. Our results shed more light on the relationship between the relative out-group size in neighborhoods and associational involvement as well as underlying explanations for this link.

Original publication




Journal article


Soc Sci Res

Publication Date





236 - 252


Associational involvement, Bonding and bridging formal social capital, Intergroup contact, Perceived ethnic threat, Relative out-group size, Adolescent, Adult, Attitude, Ethnic Groups, European Continental Ancestry Group, Fear, Humans, Interpersonal Relations, Leisure Activities, Organizations, Residence Characteristics, Social Capital, Social Environment, Social Identification, Surveys and Questionnaires, United States