Informal Social Networks and Formal Organizational Memberships Among American Jews: Findings from the National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01

Publication Date: December 2006

Publisher: Association for the Sociology of Religion

Author(s): Laurence A. Kotler-Berkowitz; Charles Kadushin

Research Area: Culture and religion; Social conditions

Keywords: Religion; Communal Organization; Demography

Type: Report

Coverage: United States


This article contributes to a small but developing literature on social network effects among American Jews. We employ data from the National Jewish Population Survey 2000-01 to examine how informal social networks and formal organizational memberships among American Jews are related to philanthropic behavior, religious observance, attitudes toward Israel, and political party identification. Using standard OLS and logistic regression techniques, and controlling for household size, age, sex, region, education and denomination, we show that giving to Jewish causes is strongly related to organizational memberships and somewhat less so to informal networks; Jewish observance is similarly but slightly less related to organizations and informal networks; emotional attachment to Israel is still less related but organizations and informal networks have about equal effects; and finally, Democratic party preference is related only to informal networks and more weakly than the other variables. A concluding discussion offers a hypothesis about the differential effects, linking the explanatory power of networks to the institutional embeddedness of the dependent variables.

Sociology of Religion 67:4, Spring 2006, pp. 465-485