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q&a with hahrie han: part deux

We continue our Q&A with Hahrie Han on her new Oxford University Press book, How Organizations Develop Activists.

Question 3. A crucial distinction in your book is mobilizing vs. organizing? What does that mean?

 The highest engagement organizations in my study combined what I call “transformational organizing” with “transactional mobilizing.” The difference between mobilizing and organizing really comes down to the extent to which organizations invest in developing people’s skills, motivations, and such as they do the work. Mobilizers are focused more on breadth–getting more people to do more stuff–so they care only about the “transactional” outcomes: how many people wrote the letter? Organizers believe that they achieve breadth by building depth–how many people became more motivated or more skilled (“transformed”) as activists by being part of the letter writing campaign? So they design work that may be harder at first, but builds more depth over the long-term.

It might be easiest to describe the difference between “transformational organizing” and “transactional mobilizing” through some examples.

Let’s say an organization wants to generate a letter writing campaign to get letters to the editor published around a particular issue. Mobilizers would create letter templates and tools people could use to click a few buttons and send off a letter to their local paper. Organizers might ask people to compose their own letter, using trainings they provide. Or, organizers might match potential letter writers with a partner to compose a joint letter.

Mobilizers would have a few staff people organizing the entire campaign–those staff would create the templates, craft the messages asking people to write the letters, and coordinate any needed follow up. People themselves would not have to do anything more than click the buttons to indicate their willingness to write the letter. Organizers would set up the campaign so that staff people might design the trainings and the goals, but a distributed network of volunteers would be charged with generating letters in their local communities. Then, they would train and support those volunteers in getting those letters.

The organizations that had the highest levels of activism did both–they did organizing AND mobilizing to get both breadth and depth. It’s not that one is better than the other; it’s that organizations need both.

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Written by fabiorojas

November 20, 2014 at 12:01 am

q&a with hahrie han: part 1

hanbook

This week, we are having a Q&A with our recent guest blogger, Hahrie Han. She is a political scientist at Wellesley College and has a new book out on the topic of how organizations sustain the participation of their members called How Organizations Develop Activists. If you want, put any questions you may have in the comments.

How Organizations Develop Activists: Civic Associations and Leadership in the 21st Century

By Hahrie Han (@hahriehan)

Question 1. Can you summarize, for the readers of this blog, your new book’s main argument? How do you prove that?

 The book begins by asking why some organizations are better than others at getting (and keeping) people involved in activism than others. All over the world, there are myriad organizations, campaigns, and movements trying to get people to do everything from signing petitions to showing up for meetings to participating in protest. Some are better than others. Why?

To answer this question, I wanted to look particularly at what the organization does. There are so many factors that affect an organization’s ability to engage activists that the organization itself cannot control. What about the things it can control? Do they matter? So I set up a study of two national organizations working in health and environmental politics that also had state and local chapters operating relatively autonomously. I created matched pairs of these local chapters that were working in the same kinds of communities, and attracted the same kinds of people to the organization. But, they differed in their ability to cultivate activism. By examining differences among organizations in each pair, I could see what the high-engagement organizations did differently. I also ran some field experiments to test the ideas that emerged.

I found that the core factor distinguishing the high-engagement organizations was the way they engaged people in activities that transformed their sense of individual and collective agency. Just like any other organization, these organizations wanted to get more people to do more stuff, but they did it in a way that cultivated their motivations, developed their skills, and built their capacity for further activism. Doing so meant that high-engagement organizations used distinct strategies for recruiting, engaging, and supporting volunteers, which I detail in the book. By combining this kind of transformational organizing with a hard-nosed focus on numbers, they were able to build the breadth and depth of activism they wanted.

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Written by fabiorojas

November 18, 2014 at 12:01 am

ed walker discusses astroturfing on c-span

Recently, former guest blogger Ed Walker appeared on C-Span to discuss his new book, Grassroots for Hire. The interview is very nice in that Ed discusses the main points of his book and there is an interactive feature of the website that allows you to directly click on specific segments of the interview. For previous posts from Ed, click here.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: Grad Skool Rulz/From Black Power 

Written by fabiorojas

September 15, 2014 at 2:19 am

learning the secrets behind orgtheory

Hi, everyone, this is Beth. I’ve been reading orgtheory since somewhere near the beginning but have never been much of a commenter. But I’m really looking forward to guest blogging. Thanks to Katherine for extending the invitation and to all the orgtheory folks for producing so much stimulating content over the years.

It feels a bit strange being behind the scenes. I now know that the most popular post of all time is, tragically, about ferrets (critical realism doesn’t even make the top 20!) and that people got here today by searching “why is sociology considered poor” and “famous-sociologist-I-won’t-name sex.” (That’s me not naming him, not what they actually Googled.)

At any rate, I’m going to save the real content for the weekdays, when people aren’t off enjoying the sunshine. But I did want to get a quick intro up.

I’m a recently tenured associate professor in sociology at SUNY Albany, and received my PhD from Berkeley in 2007. I took one of my comp exams in organizations, and I teach it at both the graduate and undergraduate levels.  Most of my work has been been about why university science became more entrepreneurial and market-focused over the last few decades.

The answer — that policymakers started to think that they could use technological innovation to drive the economy, in the process transforming universities’ regulatory and resource environment — got me interested in how the discipline of economics affects the policy process. I’m currently writing a second book, tentatively titled Thinking Like an Economist, about how economics — particularly the center-left, technocratic kind — helped to restructure U.S. public policy in important ways from the 1960s to the 1980s.

More about that later, but for now, a couple of teasers for some of the things I might write about in the weeks to come. I actually bit the bullet on guest posting because of Brayden’s post a couple of weeks about about whether org theory is out of touch with sociology, which kept stewing in the back of my mind, and I’m planning to post some thoughts on that soon.

But I’m also hoping to write a bit about the current challenges — crisis really isn’t too strong — of higher ed in the U.S. and elsewhere, and how org theory can help us to understand (solve?) it. I’m going to share some interesting bits from my book in progress. And I’ve been dying to revisit the most useful orgtheory post I’ve ever read, about what movie clips are good for teaching organizations to undergraduates.

So get out and enjoy spring, if you’ve got it, and I’m looking forward to interacting more soon.

Written by epopp

May 17, 2014 at 6:28 pm

introducing guest blogger Elizabeth “Beth” P. Berman!

Exciting news, dear readers!  Something to look forward to as we barrel towards the end of the spring semester… SUNY Albany’s Elizabeth “Beth” P. Berman has agreed to guest blog for orgtheory, inspired by Brayden‘s and other posts about upcoming discussions of the waxing/waning relationship between sociology and orgtheory.  Berman is the author of the multi-award-winning Creating the Market University: How Academic Science became an Economic Engine (Princeton University Press).  See her other pubs here.

Welcome, Beth!

 

Written by katherinechen

May 17, 2014 at 12:27 pm

centrism and sociology – guest post by chris martin

This guest post on the politics of sociology is written by Chris Martin, a doctoral student in sociology at Emory University.

Conservativism doesn’t seem to be a unipolar thing, according to much of the social psychological research on political attitudes. Rather, you can be conservative by being high in either social dominance orientation (SD) or right-wing authoritarianism (RWA). Of course, the two dimensions are moderately correlated but they’re not the same thing: high-SDO people dislike socially subordinate groups, and high RWO dislike socially deviant (or unconventional) groups. As a centrist, however, I’ve found that there’s a lack of research on the opposite poles of these scales even though there clearly seem to be a subset of liberals who like socially subordinate groups and a subset who like socially deviant groups.  Again, there’s considerable overlap between these two subsets. And there’s a small subset of libertarian liberals who don’t lean toward either pole.

This comes across in social psychological work on religious freedom. Early research showed that high-RWA people are more supportive of Christian than Muslim mandatory prayer, while low-RWA people oppose both types of prayer equally. However, if you change “mandatory” to “voluntary,” you find that low-RWA people no longer disfavor both types. Rather, they more strongly favor Muslim than Christian school prayer space.

To some degree, I’ve found that sociology has become so ideologically homogenous that it’s now the disciplinary norm to avoid using “inequality” to describe preferential treatment of subordinate or deviant groups. In the race domain, in fact, centrists can get accused of supporting colorblind ideology or denying White privilege, even if they have a well-reasoned critique of preferential treatment. And in the gender/sexuality domain, the norm is for 50% of the research to focus on people who are deviant by conventional standards. But this skewness of focus isn’t termed inequality. My point isn’t about race or gender, though, but the large issue of whether there’s place for centrists in sociology—people who neither valorize nor condemn subordinate and deviant groups. Psychological social scientists have begun to address this issue—see Jonathan Haidt and Lee Jussim in particular—focusing on how this political homogeneity harms science. Where does sociology stand?

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: From Black Power/Grad Skool Rulz

Written by fabiorojas

April 26, 2014 at 12:18 am

new guest blogger policy

If you have an idea for a blog post, send it in. We’d like to hear about sociology, management, economics, political science, and related fields. If you have comments on the academic profession, we’ll consider those as well. But please read the archives and make sure we haven’t done it.

50+ chapters of grad skool advice goodness: From Black Power/Grad Skool Rulz 

Written by fabiorojas

March 20, 2014 at 12:12 am

Posted in fabio, guest bloggers

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