Group Life Within the American Pattern:
Its Scope and Its Limits
“These people associate as easily as they breathe,” wrote Fredrika Bremer of the Americans in 1853. After two years of travel in the United States, what seemed most striking and characteristic to the Swedish novelist was the variety and spontaneity of group activity on this side of the Atlantic. There, she sensed, lay a key to the unique qualities of New World democracy.
Up to our own times, this feature of American life has continued to impress the Europeans who have made comparisons with their own uniform and stratified societies. Indeed, there seems, in retrospect, to have been a striking connection between the development of democracy in the United States and the growth in the number and scope of autonomous associations.
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