Affinity group

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An affinity group of anti-war protesters Affinity group collateral damage.jpg
An affinity group of anti-war protesters

An affinity group is a group formed around a shared interest or common goal, to which individuals formally or informally belong. Affinity groups are generally precluded from being under the aegis of any governmental agency, and their purposes must be primarily non-commercial. Examples of affinity groups include private social clubs, fraternities, writing or reading circles, hobby clubs, and groups engaged in political activism.

Fraternity brotherhood

A fraternity or fraternal organization is an organization, society, club or fraternal order traditionally of men associated together for various religious or secular aims. Fraternity in the Western concept developed in the Christian context, notably with the religious orders in the Catholic Church during the Middle Ages. The concept was eventually further extended with medieval confraternities and guilds. In the early modern era, these were followed by fraternal orders such as freemasons and odd fellows, along with gentlemen's clubs, student fraternities, and fraternal service organizations. Members are occasionally referred to as a brother or – usually in religious context – Frater or Friar.

A book discussion club is a group of people who meet to discuss a book or books that they have read and express their opinions, likes, dislikes, etc. It is more often called simply a book club, a term that is also used to describe a book sales club, which can cause confusion. Other frequently used terms to describe a book discussion club include reading group, book group, and book discussion group. Book discussion clubs may meet in private homes, libraries, bookstores, online forums, pubs, and in cafés or restaurants over meals or drinks.

Contents

Some affinity groups are organized in a non-hierarchical manner, often using consensus decision making, and are frequently made up of trusted friends. They provide a method of organization that is flexible and decentralized. Other affinity groups may have a hierarchy to provide management of the group's long-term interests, or if the group is large enough to require the delegation of responsibilities to other members or staff.

A hierarchy is an arrangement of items in which the items are represented as being "above", "below", or "at the same level as" one another. Hierarchy is an important concept in a wide variety of fields, such as philosophy, mathematics, computer science, organizational theory, systems theory, and the social sciences.

Friendship relationship between people who have mutual affection for each other

Friendship is a relationship of mutual affection between people. Friendship is a stronger form of interpersonal bond than an association. Friendship has been studied in academic fields such as communication, sociology, social psychology, anthropology, and philosophy. Various academic theories of friendship have been proposed, including social exchange theory, equity theory, relational dialectics, and attachment styles.

Affinity groups can be based on a common ideology (e.g., anarchism, pacifism), a shared concern for a given issue (e.g., anti-nuclear, anti-war) or a common activity, role, interest or skill (e.g., legal support, medical aid, black blocs). Affinity groups may have either open or closed membership, although the latter is far more common. Some charge membership dues or expect members to share the cost of the group's expenses.

An ideology is a set of normative beliefs and values that a person or other entity has for non-epistemic reasons. These rely on basic assumptions about reality that may or may not have any factual basis. The term is especially used to describe systems of ideas and ideals which form the basis of economic or political theories and resultant policies. In these there are tenuous causal links between policies and outcomes owing to the large numbers of variables available, so that many key assumptions have to be made. In political science the term is used in a descriptive sense to refer to political belief systems.

Anarchism is an anti-authoritarian political philosophy that rejects hierarchies deemed unjust and advocates their replacement with self-managed, self-governed societies based on voluntary, cooperative institutions. These institutions are often described as stateless societies, although several authors have defined them more specifically as distinct institutions based on non-hierarchical or free associations. Anarchism's central disagreement with other ideologies is that it holds the state to be undesirable, unnecessary, and harmful.

Pacifism opposition to war and violence

Pacifism is opposition to war, militarism, or violence. The word pacifism was coined by the French peace campaigner Émile Arnaud (1864–1921) and adopted by other peace activists at the tenth Universal Peace Congress in Glasgow in 1901. A related term is ahimsa, which is a core philosophy in Hinduism, Buddhism, and Jainism. While modern connotations are recent, having been explicated since the 19th century, ancient references abound.

History

Although affinity groups are a natural way for humans to organize[ citation needed ] and are, in that sense, as old as humanity, the origin of affinity groups in the current context began in the 16th century in Britain with dining clubs that would meet at a set location and at a recurring time. One of the earliest recorded examples of such was a group that called itself the "Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen" which met at the Mermaid Tavern in London the first Friday night of each month. Membership was strictly limited and many of the Elizabethan Era's most prominent literary figures belonged. They gathered to eat, drink and socialize with other members, and to discuss literary matters.

Mermaid Tavern

The Mermaid Tavern was a tavern on Cheapside in London during the Elizabethan era, located east of St. Paul's Cathedral on the corner of Friday Street and Bread Street. It was the site of the so-called "Fraternity of Sireniacal Gentlemen", a drinking club that met on the first Friday of every month that included some of the Elizabethan era's leading literary figures, among them Ben Jonson, John Donne, John Fletcher and Francis Beaumont, Thomas Coryat, John Selden, Robert Bruce Cotton, Richard Carew, Richard Martin, and William Strachey. A popular tradition has grown up that the group included William Shakespeare, although most scholars think that was improbable.

London Capital of the United Kingdom

London is the capital and largest city of England and the United Kingdom. Standing on the River Thames in the south-east of England, at the head of its 50-mile (80 km) estuary leading to the North Sea, London has been a major settlement for two millennia. Londinium was founded by the Romans. The City of London, London's ancient core − an area of just 1.12 square miles (2.9 km2) and colloquially known as the Square Mile − retains boundaries that follow closely its medieval limits. The City of Westminster is also an Inner London borough holding city status. Greater London is governed by the Mayor of London and the London Assembly.

During the 17th century, far more affinity groups formed, ranging from large, national or even international fraternal groups like the Freemasons to private gentlemen's clubs, to small, informal reading circles or collectors clubs. Unlike salons or other periodic gatherings that had continuously changing participants, affinity groups traditionally have had curated memberships. Often, a would-be member had to be proposed for membership by an existing member, or would-be members might petition to join on their own. The existing members often are required to vote upon whether or not to accept the applicant as a new member. Some voting procedures require unanimity (such as the Freemasons), others may require a simple majority of supporting votes. After becoming a member, continuing membership may be contingent upon conforming to rules or shared ideologies, and the disbarring of members for a variety of reasons is possible.

Salon (gathering) Social gathering

A salon is a gathering of people under the roof of an inspiring host, held partly to amuse one another and partly to refine the taste and increase the knowledge of the participants through conversation. These gatherings often consciously followed Horace's definition of the aims of poetry, "either to please or to educate". Salons in the tradition of the French literary and philosophical movements of the 17th and 18th centuries were carried on until as recently as the 1920s in urban settings.

Affinity groups fall under the category of NGOs, but are further limited by being primarily non-commercial, and are not required to have any specific purpose that might affect the community beyond their own group. For example, both a social justice group and a philately group would be considered affinity groups, but the former more closely resembles the classic definition of an NGO.

Social justice Concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society

Social justice is a concept of fair and just relations between the individual and society. This is measured by the explicit and tacit terms for the distribution of wealth, opportunities for personal activity, and social privileges. In Western as well as in older Asian cultures, the concept of social justice has often referred to the process of ensuring that individuals fulfill their societal roles and receive what was their due from society. In the current global grassroots movements for social justice, the emphasis has been on the breaking of barriers for social mobility, the creation of safety nets and economic justice.

Philately Study of stamps and postal history and other related items

Philately is the study of stamps and postal history and other related items. It also refers to the collection, appreciation and research activities on stamps and other philatelic products. Philately involves more than just stamp collecting, which does not necessarily involve the study of stamps. It is possible to be a philatelist without owning any stamps. For instance, the stamps being studied may be very rare or reside only in museums.

Political affinity groups

Affinity groups engaged in political activism date to 19th century Spain. It was a favourite way of organization by Spanish anarchists (grupos de afinidad), and had their base in the tertulias or in the local groups. [1]

Politically oriented affinity groups in the United States gained public attention during the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s and 1970s. The term was first used by Ben Morea and the group Black Mask. Later, anti-war activists on college campuses organized around their hobbies or backgrounds -- religious, gender, ethnic group, etc. They became popular in the 1970s in the anti-nuclear movement in the United States and Europe. The 30,000 person occupation and blockade of the Ruhr nuclear power station in Germany in 1969 was organized on the Affinity group model. [2] [3] Today, the structure is used by many different activists: animal rights, environmental, anti-war, and anti-globalization, to name some examples.

The 1999 protests in Seattle which shut down the WTO Ministerial Conference of 1999 included coordinated organization by many clusters of Affinity groups. [4]

Organization

External

By definition, Affinity groups are autonomous from any larger body. Co-ordinated effort and co-operation amongst several Affinity groups, however, is often achieved by using a loose form of confederation. Private clubs, for example, may cooperate through reciprocal agreements which allow the members of one club to use the facilities of another club in a different location. Other affinity groups, such as Rotarians or Toastmasters, may be individual units that conform to shared standards so that one may participate in another group of the same name anywhere on earth without requiring the individual to reapply for a new membership.

Internal

Affinity groups tend to be loosely organized, however there are some formal roles or positions that commonly occur. A given Affinity group may have all, some or none of these positions. They may be permanent or temporary and the group may opt to take turns in these roles, or assign one role to one person.

See also

Related Research Articles

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A deliberative assembly is a gathering of members who use parliamentary procedure to make decisions.

Cooperative autonomous association of persons or organizations

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Consensus decision-making

Consensus decision-making is a group decision-making process in which group members develop, and agree to support a decision in the best interest of the whole group or common goal. Consensus may be defined professionally as an acceptable resolution, one that can be supported, even if not the "favourite" of each individual. It has its origin in the Latin word cōnsēnsus (agreement), which is from cōnsentiō meaning literally feel together. It is used to describe both the decision and the process of reaching a decision. Consensus decision-making is thus concerned with the process of deliberating and finalizing a decision, and the social, economic, legal, environmental and political effects of applying this process.

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