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“A Tense and Permeable Boundary”

“A Tense and Permeable Boundary”

Business Associations in the Civil Sphere

(p.298) Chapter Nine “A Tense and Permeable Boundary”
Solidarity in Strategy
Lyn Spillman
University of Chicago Press

This chapter amplifies the findings about business associations' political orientations, strategies of action, and vocabularies of motive. It examines their publicly oriented languages and strategies of action beyond conventional politics. First, it assesses scholarly assumptions about associations' interest in public opinion with evidence from the census, and explores strategies of action and discourse about public relations in the focal sample. Then it points out that although scholars interested in nonprofit voluntary groups and civil society have ignored business associations, these groups should also be considered in debates about the strength of civil society. The chapter assesses evidence of orientations to civic goals in the business association population and explores qualitative evidence of associations' strategies of action and vocabularies of motive that challenges the distinction between economy and civil society. Attempts to influence public opinion and to participate in civil society are usually understood in languages of public good, especially stewardship of the public good through technical expertise. An extended case study, of the National Association of Real Estate Brokers, demonstrates these claims.

Keywords:   political orientations, business associations, association languages, conventional politics, public relations, civic goals, public good

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