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Benefit society

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Benefit society

A benefit society or mutual aid society is an incorporate as one of these forms or another to continue to exist on an ongoing basis.

Benefit societies can be organized around a shared ethnic background, religion, occupation, geographical region or other basis. Benefits may include money or assistance for sickness, retirement, education, birth of a baby, funeral and medical expenses, or unemployment. Often benefit societies provide a social or educational framework for members and their families to support each other and contribute to the wider community.

Examples of benefit societies include Freemasons and the Oddfellows, coworking communities, and many others. Peter Kropotkin posited early in the 20th century that mutual aid affiliations predate human culture and are as much a factor in evolution as is the "survival of the fittest" concept.

A benefit society can be characterized by

  • members having equivalent opportunity for a say in the organization
  • members having potentially equivalent benefits
  • aid would go to those in need (strong helping the weak)
  • collection fund for payment of benefits
  • educating others about a group's interest
  • preserving cultural traditions
  • mutual deference

Contents

  • History of benefit societies 1
  • Current benefit societies 2
  • Selected past and present benefit societies 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5

History of benefit societies

Examples of benefit societies can be found throughout history, including among secret societies of the Free African Society of Philadedelphia.

Philadelphia's first African American former slaves, Absalom Jones and Richard Allen. These two men were Methodist converts from evangelical masters, who gave these men permission to purchase their freedom in the early 1780s.[1]

Mutual aid was a foundation of

  • Kropotkin, Peter (1902) Mutual Aid: A Factor of Evolution
  •  
  • Beito, David T. (2000) From Mutual Aid to Welfare State: How Fraternal Societies Fought Poverty and Taught Character
  • Beito, David T.; Gordon, Peter; Tabarrok, Alexander eds. (2002) The Voluntary City: Choice, Community, and Civil Society
  • Barber, Benjamin (2002) "Mutual Aid Society on a Grand Scale"
  •  

References

  1. ^  
  2. ^  
  3. ^ (Olasky 1994, p. 100)
  4. ^ (Beito 2000, p. 3)
  5. ^ "Mutual aid societies Dialog from the H-Asia list, October 1995", Hartford-hwp.com.

Notes

Selected past and present benefit societies

In post-National Forests of the United States each year around age old models of ad hoc mutual aid.

in the United States is a leading example of shared credit and labor pooled to help low-income people afford adequate housing. Habitat for Humanity [5] New technologies have provided yet more new opportunities for humanity to support itself through mutual aid. Recent authors have described the networked affiliations that produce

Many of the features of benefit organizations today have been assimilated into organizations that rely on the corporate and political structures of our time. Insurance companies, religious charities, credit unions and democratic governments now perform many of the same functions that were once the purview of ethnically- or culturally-affiliated mutual benefit associations.

Current benefit societies

Oaths, secret signs and knowledge, and regalia were historically an important part of many benefit societies, but declined in use in most benefit societies during the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Conversely, signs and ceremony have become the mainstay of fraternal societies that no longer focus as much on mutual aid.

During the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries benefit societies in the form of friendly societies and trade unions were essential in providing social assistance for sickness and unemployment, and improving social conditions for a large part of the working population. With the introduction in the early twentieth century of state social welfare programs, and industrial, health and welfare regulation, the influence and membership of benefit societies have declined in importance, but remains significant. Nevertheless, in many countries, for example in Europe, mutual benefit societies continue to provide statutory and supplementary healthcare coverage.

This charter shows the importance of 'brotherhood', and the principles of discipline, conviviality and benevolence. The structure of fraternity in the guild forms the basis for orders such as Freemasonry and other fraternal orders, friendly societies and modern [4] This removed the stigma of charity.

"To become a gildsman,..it was necessary to pay certain initiation fees,..(and to take) an oath of fealty to the fraternity, swearing to observe its laws, to uphold its privileges, not to divulge its counsels, to obey its officers, and not to aid any non-gildsman under cover of the newly-acquired 'freedom.'" (C Gross, The Gild Merchant, (1927))

Medieval guilds were an early basis for many Western benefit societies. A guild charter document from 1200 states:

[3], commenting on the extent of private charity, says: "New York is, I firmly believe, the most charitable city in the world. Nowhere is there so eager a readiness to help ..."Jacob Riis Writing in 1890, [2]

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