Agency of Civil Society Organizations

Veress, József (2017) Agency of Civil Society Organizations. In: Tenth Asia Pacific Regional Conference of the International Society for Third Sector Research (ISTR), 2017. december 4-5., Jakarta Indonezia. (Unpublished)

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The transformational dynamism of civil society - somewhat paradoxically - provides its capacity to facilitate social sustainability - this paper argues. The market sector generates robust trends of marketization that affect both the civil society and the public sphere. The increasing institutional isomorphic pressures create two well distinguishable approaches present in civil society. Part of its organizations due to growing dependence on funding “…arguably offers a mirror image to the for-profit mode of operating”. There are however strong cases of conscious and effective opposition to market-driven isomorphic institutional pressures. Moreover, civil society organizations may successfully create alternate isomorphic pressures by generating association-prone dynamism, i.e. by promoting cooperation and sharing in their broader environment - as empirical findings indicate. The previous research describes large and growing number of diverse intellectual and practical approaches - similar to social and solidarity economy, sharing economy, on demand platform economy, commons based peer production, and platform cooperativism - aiming to promote post-industrial, ‘post-capitalist’ changes contributing to the emergence of knowledge-driven societies. These partly overlapping, approaches may also shape concrete patterns of enactment of new, increasingly digital technologies, i.e. (re-)shape their interplay with changing relational and social dynamism. The paper elaborates on sources, mechanisms and outcomes of transformational dynamism of self-organizing communities serving as samples of the civil society organizations’ broad array. The study draws upon the analysis of five clusters of communities what enables to elaborate on feed backing changes generative and constitutive of the community’s transformational dynamism. The spreading mass-cooperation by mobilizing locally available distributed resources can follow inclusive and non-fragmented dynamics what presupposes and catalyses genuine sharing of both resources and outcomes. The volunteering community members contribute to cooperative efforts and their participation fulfil multiple - mostly higher level - needs by re-creating and strengthening motivation to collaborate and provide even unilateral contributions. The self-communication facilitates to re-create their motivation and interplays with growing reflectivity and reflexivity or knowledgeability by enhancing the capacity to carry out social agency by “going after the small picture”. The community members’ readiness to volunteer interplays with important institutional changes - non-zero-sum approach and (acceptance of) interdependence by replacing the twin-dominance of zero-sum paradigm and resource scarcity view. Consequently, in civil society organizations the logic is diametrically opposite to business models aiming to minimise the participants’ number and maximise the size and resource intensity of individual ‘contributions’ by increasing efficiency and profitability. The systematic division of volunteer activities into small, easy to fulfil tasks following “modularity of contributions” and the primacy of locally available resources presuppose, enable, and catalyse each and the ‘take up’ of self-organizing. Moreover, horizontal, decentralized enactment and sharing of non-depletable and non-rivalrous resources enables to extend the base and increase the effectiveness of upgraded resourcing. This pattern of resourcing plays important role in the communities’ capacity to innovate and increases the complexity of their operations without necessarily expanding the organization. The communities operate as virtual polycentric hierarchies without generating organizational hierarchies. They continuously re-emerge through aggregation of the members parallel, distributed and mutually adaptive, stigmergic interactions that aggregate into continuous self-organizing. The paper argues that the interplay between continuous self-organizing and reconfiguration of structuration generates the civil society organizations’ transformational dynamism. It also creates a tendency to networking self-upgrading into quasi-fields characterized by new dialectics of inclusive and un-fragmented cooperation. The deeper analysis of feed backing developments enables to explore sources, mechanisms and outcomes of the civil society organizations’ intrinsic transformational dynamism. It indicates that the volunteers’ cooperation interplays with changes in institutional sphere and power relations; brings about alterations in (patterns of) work, competition, value creation and resourcing; results in the volunteers’ empowering individuation. These feed backing alterations transforms the communities and catalyses changes also in their broader environment, i.e. generates their capacity of social agency.

Item Type:Conference or Workshop Item (Lecture)
Uncontrolled Keywords:social agency, continuous self-organizing, reconfiguration of structuration, resource sharing, upgraded cooperation
JEL classification:A13 - Relation of Economics to Social Values
Subjects:Knowledge economy, innovation
ID Code:3277
Deposited By: J Veress
Deposited On:11 Jan 2018 09:02
Last Modified:11 Jan 2018 09:02

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