Originally published in 1971, this book considers the part played by voluntary associations in the growth of towns in West Africa, a factor of central importance to the student of African sociology. No previous book had been devoted to this subject and it was therefore a pioneering work. The book is founded on the Frazer Lecture which Professor Little gave at the University of Cambridge in 1963. Professor Little divides voluntary associations into tribal unions and syncretist cults, groups concerned with mutual benefit and with recreation, and associations based upon the common interest in the Christian Religion or in Western cultural or social pursuits. He then shows how these volunteer societies frequently combine Western aims with traditional African customs. The book indicates some of the important trends in a changing West Africa. It examines the general mechanism of social change in developing areas.