In Democracy in America, Alexis de Tocqueville devoted an entire chapter to the propensity of Americans to form associations. In particular, he observed:
The Americans make associations to give entertainments, to found seminaries, to build inns, to construct churches, to diffuse books, to send missionaries to the antipodes; in this manner they found hospitals, prisons, and schools. If it is proposed to inculcate some truth or to foster some feeling by the encouragement of a great example, they form a society. Wherever at the head of some new undertaking you see the government in France, or a man of rank in England, in the United States you will be sure to find an association.
Henry Reeve translation,revised and corrected, 1899.
Today, many of the activities mentioned by Alexis de Tocqueville are undertaken in the form of nonprofit corporations. However, people still form unincorporated clubs or otherwise informally associate for social, religious, charitable or other purposes. I expect that few give any thought to such basic questions as:
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