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Organizing spaces: Meeting arenas as a social movement infrastructure between organization, network, and institution

Journal article
Authors Christoph Haug
Published in Organization Studies
Volume 34
Issue 5-6
Pages 705-732
ISSN 0170-8406
Publication year 2013
Published at Department of Sociology and Work Science
Gothenburg Centre for Globalization and Development (GCGD)
Pages 705-732
Language en
Keywords free spaces; meetings; mesomobilization; network; organizing; social movements; communication as constitutive of organization (CCO)
Subject categories Sociology, Political Science, Communication Studies


In recent years, social movement scholars have shown increasing interest in the internal lives of social movements, but this turn from “social movements as actors” to “social movements as spaces” has not yet led to a conceptual apparatus that addresses the key role of face-to-face meetings, especially in the inter-organizational domain of mesomobilization. Building on the concept of “partial organization”, the paper develops the concept of “meeting arena” as a hybrid of three forms of social order: organization, institution, and network. It is argued that the complex figuration of meeting arenas in a social movement or protest mobilization constitutes an infrastructure that synchronizes the dispersed activities of movement actors in time and space. This infrastructure is not an entirely emergent phenomenon but is also the result of conscious decisions by organizers. Heuristic, methodological, and theoretical implications of this novel perspective on social movements are discussed, highlighting especially the potential of the distinction between organizing and mobilizing as two intertwined but essentially different types of social movement activity.

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