Religion Past and Present

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Voluntary Associations
(5,190 words)

[German Version]

I. History

1. Terminology.

The use of the term “association” to denote the formal union of persons and bodies has been common since the 19th century, especially through its application in the legal area. Associations were and are also called societies, unions, corporations, cooperatives, federations, groups, initiatives, movements etc.

Modern unions are defined as the voluntary union of originally separate forces to achieve a common aim. By their structural features of free choice and…

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Häusler, Michael, Schäfer, Alfred, Kuhlemann, Frank-Michael, Kaiser, Jochen-Christoph, Haering, Stephan and Gern, Wolfgang, “Voluntary Associations”, in: Religion Past and Present. Consulted online on 23 July 2024 <>
First published online: 2011
First print edition: ISBN: 9789004146662, 2006-2013

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