Organizations and Communities - David Joseph-Goteiner, UC Berkeley
David Joseph-Goteiner is a 4th year PhD student in sociology at UC Berkeley. He has a BA from Yale and an MS from the School for Advanced Studies in the Social Sciences in Paris. He studies the dynamics of contemporary communities.  His presentation addressed several areas:
  • What is sociology and what does it do?
  • What do organizations do and how do they show value? 
  • Is their membership inclusive or exclusive or both?
  • What do the members value and how do we measure success for the organization (is it just membership?).
Sociology looks at social groups to develop facts about those organizations. Some work is controversial and that work combines aspects of the scientific and artistic. David used his apartment building in Paris as an example. It was both a local community (i.e., they all lived there), but it was also a global community (i.e., they had some from everywhere). The pandemic also brought people together.
David’s primary study was of the YMCA, a national collection of local clubs similar to Rotary. The YMCA used basketball to draw young people to the club. Even in New Haven, the Y was both inclusive (seeking members) and exclusive (segregated). The newer better equipped clubs were in the suburbs, supporting and reflecting “white flight.” However, the Y evolved. It ended segregation in the 1960s. Its membership peaked in the 1950s and began a long decline to 2000. Many factors are likely involved (e.g., television). As another example, in recent years, the Boy Scouts declined while the Girl Scouts thrived. Organizations need to be able to adapt to new conditions. Local successes can yield national increases.
Rotary peaked in the 1980s and 1990s and has declined since 2000. So, what are the measures of success for Rotary? What do clubs value and care about? It is also important to think about how to measure success. Membership quantity is only one measure of success. The quality of the membership experience, which is harder to measure, is also important.  Watch the presentation here.