1. bookVolume 17 (2021): Issue 4 (December 2021)
Journal Details
First Published
16 Apr 2015
Publication timeframe
2 times per year
access type Open Access

To Join or Not to Join? Contextualising the Motives of Organisational Membership in the Czech Republic and East and West Germany

Published Online: 30 Dec 2021
Page range: 743 - 771
Journal Details
First Published
16 Apr 2015
Publication timeframe
2 times per year

This article investigates sources of motivation for organisational engagement in different sociopolitical contexts. On the grounds of my own qualitative data, this text aims to answer the main research question: ‘Why do Czech and German university students get involved in political and civic organisations?’ The analysis also shows how the perception and understanding of politics differ according to the types of political motivation. The research draws upon a unique dataset of 60 interviews with university students conducted in former East (Jena) and West Germany (Mannheim, Cologne), and the Czech Republic (Prague, Ostrava and Olomouc). The results identify the notion of influence as a core factor for joining a political group and forming political commitment among the young generation. The article introduces a personal typology of political motivation, which extends existing theories and frames them in the pathways to politics of young Czech and German activists. It distinguishes three main motivations: idealistic, doer and pragmatic with a variety of subtypes. The paper elaborates on classical typologies refraining from membership. These outcomes have practical implications for the recruitment of new party members.


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