Network multiplexity in collective action fields as “partial organizing”: A comparative illustration

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    Mario Diani
    University of Trento


Mario Diani, University of Trento
Network multiplexity in collective action fields as “partial organizing”: A comparative illustration

This paper attempts to expand the conversation between theorists of social movements and of partial organizations. More specifically, it argues that the concept of “partial organization” may usefully guide research on the mechanisms that secure some level of coordination between the multiplicity of groups and organizations active within a collective action field. The argument develops as follows. First, I identify some shortcomings in the way social movement theory has addressed the multiplicity of organizational forms present within social movements. Next, I introduce the concept of “mode of coordination” (henceforth, MoC) in order to differentiate between the different modalities through which the multiple actors operating in a collective action field relate to each other. In the third section I show how the  modes of coordination introduced in the previous section reflect different forms of partial organizing. In its fourth, empirical section, the paper explores the presence of different MoCs in urban polities that differ substantially in the salience of existing cleavages and consolidation of the democratic system. Analysts of network organizations have long identified the conditions that affect the adoption of that organizational model as a key question for research. Here, I extend the domain of those questions from economic actors to voluntary organizations promoting collective action. The final section of the paper summarize its main findings, focusing on how some basic features of local polities account for differences in the adoption of specific MoCs, and in the salience of homophily mechanisms in different fields.  

Mario Diani is Professor of Sociology at the University of Trento. He also taught at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow and at Universitat Pompeu Fabra in Barcelona. He has worked on social movement theory and applications of social network analysis to the study of collective action in a variety of contexts, from Italian environmentalism in the 1980s to civil society organizations in Britain and South Africa. His publications include Social Movements (Blackwell 1999/2020, with D. della Porta), The Cement of Civil Society (Cambridge University Press 2015), and Multimodal Political Networks (Cambridge University Press 2021, with D Knoke, J Hollway and D. Christopoulos) as well as articles in top journals, among them American Sociological Review, American Journal of Sociology, Theory & Society, and Mobilization.