Voluntary associations that develop core virtues and values that enable individuals to contribute to public life and maintain the political institutions of a free society.
(de Tocqueville 2000)
Civic associations can serve as a kind of buffer or intermediary between individuals and public institutions. They provide citizens with an opportunity to give freely and generously, beyond both the obligations of law and the market’s narrower interest in profit. Some examples of civic associations are: clubs, churches, nonprofits, and community groups of all types.
Putnam, Robert. "Bowling Alone: American's Declining Social Capital." Journal of Democracy 6(1): 65-78.
de Tocqueville, Alexis. 2000. Democracy in America. Translated and edited by Harvey C. Mansfield and Delba Winthrop. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.