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From social movement to moral market : how the circuit riders sparked an IT revolution and created a technology market Preview this item
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From social movement to moral market : how the circuit riders sparked an IT revolution and created a technology market

Author: Paul-Brian McInerney
Publisher: Stanford, California : Stanford University Press, 2014.
Edition/Format:   eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats

From Social Movement to Moral Market tells the story of the Circuit Riders, a group of activists who helped nonprofit organizations to cross the digital divide, as a way of examining how grassroots  Read more...


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Genre/Form: Electronic books
Material Type: Document, Internet resource
Document Type: Internet Resource, Computer File
All Authors / Contributors: Paul-Brian McInerney
ISBN: 9780804785129 0804785120
OCLC Number: 885220999
Description: 1 Online-Ressource
Contents: From Social Movement to Moral Market: How the Circuit Riders Sparked an IT Revolution and Created a Technology MarketAuthor(s): Paul-Brian McInerneyWhat happens when social movement ideals meet market principles? Based on a three-year ethnography of a technology movement, this book shows how social movements make and shape markets. To illustrate how movements shape markets this book tells the story of the "Circuit Riders," a group of social justice activists dedicated to sparking a technology revolution among grassroots and nonprofit organizations. The movement enrolled and mobilized many activists, growing 10,000 strong in just a few years. But market forces soon derailed the revolution. With the support of multinational corporations, a new organization recognized a nascent market in the wake of the Circuit Rider movement. Called NPower, this social enterprise combined social values, like helping nonprofit organizations and market practices, like charging fees for service and developing complex performance metrics. NPower experienced nearly instant success tapping foundation funding and corporate support to forge a market for technology services in the nonprofit sector. Even in decline, the Circuit Riders continued to shape the market they inadvertently created. By mobilizing open source technologies and offering low-cost technology to those in need, the Circuit Riders became a necessary check on otherwise unfettered market forces.1The Circuit Rider Mounts: Establishing Worth and the Birth of a Social MovementChapter abstract: This chapter discusses the inauspicious roots of the Circuit Rider movement, explaining how early adherents mobilized others by convincing them of the worth of information technology in the nonprofit sector. Mobilization was accomplished through the development and articulation of accounts, i.e., stories about the role of information technology for social change and how to deliver it to nonprofit and grassroots organizations. The movement grew as the Circuit Rider model became established as the movement began to develop a collective identity to mobilize new adherents. As the movement grew, the collective identity expanded to include new actors, who did not meet the original criteria for Circuit Riders. This created a collective identity problem for them as they attempted to balance the need to grow with the need to maintain an authentic definition of their movement. This chapter shows how social movements' appeals to idealism enable mobilization while constraining future movement activities.2Organizing for Change: Conferences, Meetings, and the Configuration of FieldsChapter abstract: This chapter discusses the growth of the movement and how decisions about how to organize and construct a collective identity produced unintended consequences that would change the movement's direction dramatically. To spread their accounts of Circuit Riding, leaders put together two sets of meetings: the Riders Roundups, which were designed to articulate a collective identity for the movement in order to enroll new members, and the National Strategy for Nonprofit Technology, which targeted foundations and was intended to secure resources for the movement's growth as well as to institutionalize Circuit Riding. The two sets of meetings highlight a tension in the development of organizational fields between forces of stabilization and those of change. However, their organizing strategy created opportunities for a challenger to gain foothold in the field and led to the conventionalization of a set of practices different from those espoused by the Circuit Riders.3Institutional Entrepreneurs Build a Bridge: Connecting Movements and Markets through Social EnterpriseChapter abstract: This chapter describes the rise of a challenger organization, called NPower, that took advantage of transformations in the Circuit Rider social movement to rise in prominence. NPower combined some of the Circuit Riders' social values with market values of technology entrepreneurs into a hybrid organizational form: the social enterprise. The result attracted funding from for-profit companies such as Microsoft as well as other large for-profit technology firms. Materially, these resources allowed NPower to grow rapidly and eventually gain national prominence. Symbolically, the support of for-profit firms provided a different basis for moral legitimacy in the nonprofit technology assistance field, moving the account of worth away from the larger social good and into more narrowly defined economic goods, such as efficiency gains.4Walking the Values Tightrope: The Moral Ambivalence of Social EnterpriseChapter abstract: This chapter explains how NPower worked to institutionalize their entrepreneurial approach to nonprofit technology by expanding and replicating their model nationally. This chapter illustrates how organizations translate existing models to local environments while maintaining enough similarity to the original as to be recognizable as such. Here, I present data from a longitudinal organizational ethnography at the NPower office in New York, the first and arguably most successful affiliate of the NPower national expansion. This chapter explains moral ambivalence, the tension created by the entrepreneurial strategy of combining social and economic values. Moral ambivalence forces hybrid organizations, like social enterprises, to appeal to multiple stakeholders simultaneously expanding moral legitimacy. However, such a strategy also makes the organization vulnerable to moral legitimacy challenges from other actors, in this case members of the Circuit Rider movement.5The Circuit Riders Respond: Conventions of Coordination as Movements React to MarketsChapter abstract: This chapter shows how competition among groups shapes moral markets. It explains how the Circuit Riders engaged with the new dominant actor in nonprofit technology assistance, NPower. Through successive interactions, new conventions of coordination reduced the uncertainty of interacting in the nonprofit technology assistance market. In response to NPower's growing dominance, some in the Circuit Rider movement mobilized around an alternative platform, free/open source software. The strategy was an attempt to reassert the founding values of the Circuit Rider movement as articulated in technology. Ultimately, the Circuit Riders had limited success in splitting the technology services market. This chapter illustrates how, once institutionalized, organizational forms and practices like social enterprise are difficult to challenge, but also how social movements can create alternative niches for consumers who share their social values. 6Patterns Worth Noting: Markets Out of MovementsChapter abstract: This chapter draws conclusions about the relationship between social movements and markets, while exploring the practical consequences of the Circuit Riders and nonprofit technology assistance organizations. Theoretically, this chapter explains the process by which accounts become conventions, or soft institutions. In the soft institutions stage, conventions are more easily challenged by alternative accounts. The result is contention in organizational fields over the "rules of the game." Such contention is resolved when actors in the field accept a set of "rules" as appropriate. For moral markets, the "rules of the game" or institutions, are developed through these processes of contention. This chapter outlines how contention over institutions, especially battles over moral legitimacy, imbues markets with moral codes as well as rules of social action. Practically, this chapter demonstrates the positive and negative outcomes of the transformation of the Circuit Riders into a market for technology assistance in the nonprofit sector.IntroductionChapter abstract: This chapter explains how social movements can create moral markets out of their activities and the ambivalence that arises out of such outcomes. When social movements create and shape markets, they attempt to imbue such markets with social values they consider important, such as environmentalism or social justice. But which values eventually take hold? And how? This chapter addresses these questions by explaining three important actions in the creation of markets and movements alike. Establishing worth entails getting actors to recognize the value of one's endeavors. Organizing creates stable relationships and meanings and channels the efforts of others toward achieving collective goals. Coordination is about figuring out appropriate modes of orientation toward other actors.
Responsibility: Paul-Brian McInerney.


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"From Social Movement to Moral Market offers a great analysis of how values shape economic institutions, looking at what happens to a market when movement activists enter and try to change it. A Read more...

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