Mobilizing Structures And Cultures: A Cross-National Comparison Of Community Organizations

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Abstract

In this dissertation, I conduct a cross-national comparison of three community organizations in the US, UK, and Germany and show how these models of collective representation have been able to sustain their original goals of mobilizing people and building power for social change. Based on participant observation, interviews, and archival analysis, I show, first, how the community organizations emerged in each context. Here, I emphasize the political opportunity structure as well as the strategic capacities of the founders. Second, I show that despite being embedded in very different institutional contexts, each organization has a strong capacity of mobilizing its members. To account for this similarity, I argue that the organizations develop a similar "hybrid logic of organizing" combining elements from a bureaucracy and from a social movement within their structure and culture. Differences in terms of membership growth, however, come to the forefront as well. Being embedded in a different context is not a sufficient explanation, but I argue it is important to understand the mechanisms of creative borrowing. Each organizer had to creatively adapt the model to make it work within the context. Finally, I illustrate under which conditions an organization can maintain its vitality and its capacity to mobilize its members over time. Again, I show the importance of agency or corrective mechanisms that come into play in the form of reflection and deliberation between the members and the organizers to make sure the organization sticks to its original mission. This dissertation contributes to the theoretical debates on the role of alternative forms of collective representation, the development of organizations, and the factors affecting their relative success.

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2013-05-26
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community organizations; mobilization; hybrid logic
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Turner, Lowell
Turner, Lowell
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Lawler, Edward J
Lawler, Edward J
Tarrow, Sidney G
Degree Discipline
Industrial and Labor Relations
Degree Name
Ph. D., Industrial and Labor Relations
Degree Level
Doctor of Philosophy
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Government Document
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dissertation or thesis
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