varieties of coercive experience
We got into a good discussion about coercive processes in organization theory, based on Michael’s work. One thing that got my goat was that “coercive” could mean a wide range of things, and you can find all of them used in the literature:
- Legitimate coercion: The state uses legitimate force to punish orgs that fail to staisfy the state’s standards.
- Quasi-legitimate coercion: States punish orgs that fail to comply with standards issued by non-state entities.
- Illegitimate state coercion: State uses force against orgs, but in a way that is not recognized as legitimate.
- Illegitimate non-state coercion: Private actors using force to ensure compliance from orgs.
- Power of certification and shunning: Some actors hold the power to award status to orgs, and it’s universally recognized as defining a legitimate organization, but no violence is used. Comply or be shunned.
- Power of certification and cost increase: Same as above, but orgs still considered legitimate if they fail to comply. However, costs of operation go up because status comes with priviliges. This is a broader case of #5.
Once you spell it out, you see that “coercive process” means a whole lot of different things. For example, D&P(’83) clearly say they mean #1 and #2. We can think of public reporting for publicly traded firms as an example of #1. Medical institutions must often obtain private certification, but it’s backed up by state force (#2). Michael’s work on law school rankings is #6 – you can drop from the rankings and still operate, just at a way higher cost. Movement repression studies fall into #3. My work on movement tactics and org change is #4. Religious certifications may be a good example of #5 – who would go to a church that claimed to be Catholic but was not recognized as such by the Vatican? I think Brayden’s work, with Sara Soule, is a combination of #4 and #6 (private persons using force to trigger costs on orgs). I don’t think I have any broader point, other than that researchers ought to be careful when tossing “coercive” around.
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