Sustained Community Theater Participation as Civil Society Involvement

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Community theaters proliferate in every state in the nation, yet they are rarely considered in civil society research. Participation in civil society is capable of producing individual (psychological empowerment) and community-level outcomes, yet less is known about how community theaters might be capable of producing the same. Guided by the empirically tested dimensions of intra-organizational empowerment, this qualitative study interrogates four internal processes of voluntary membership in a community theater (shared beliefs, opportunity role structure, social support, and leadership). Directed content analysis of 14 in-depth interviews support and extend our understanding of existing theory for this less examined population. Implications for policy, practice, and future research are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)549-566
Number of pages18
JournalNonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 2017


  • associational membership
  • civil society
  • community theater
  • organizational empowerment


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