Volunteer associations in the Internet age: Ecological approach to understanding collective action
Katz, James E.
Date of Issue2016
Wee Kim Wee School of Communication and Information
With the growth of communication technologies in society, collective action has taken new forms that may not be well conceptualized by existing theories. Hence two meaningful theoretical and practical questions are: how is collective action performed by these new forms of human associations and with what effects? To address these questions, this study compared and drew on theories of collective action and organizational ecology to investigate a particular type of voluntary associations, mixed-mode groups. Mixed-mode groups are created and organized online to meet physically in geographically defined ways. An online survey was conducted with 171 randomly sampled groups on Meetup.com. Meetup.com is a website that facilitates the creation and coordination of mixed-mode groups. An analysis of the survey data showed that using internal and external strategies helped groups generate positive group impacts: internal strategies had direct effects on group impacts while external strategies had more circuitous and additive effects on group impacts through network resources. Accordingly, mixed-mode groups navigated across boundaries, became embedded in the networked environment, and generated group impacts. These findings show that, unlike the expectations of collective action theories, ecological theories can be robustly extended to address the mechanisms underlying collective action of contemporary voluntary groups.
The Information Society
© 2016 The Authors (published by Taylor & Francis). This is the author created version of a work that has been peer reviewed and accepted for publication in The Information Society, published by Taylor & Francis on behalf of the authors. It incorporates referee’s comments but changes resulting from the publishing process, such as copyediting, structural formatting, may not be reflected in this document. The published version is available at: [http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01972243.2016.1177761].