This thesis explores how Actor-Network Theory (ANT) can be used to analyze the
activities of Grassroots Support Organizations (GSOs) operating within the sphere of
social justice development work. Specifically, the ANT concepts of translation, actor as
intermediary vs. mediator, and cartography of controversies are used to delineate the
work that GSOs perform. Data from case studies of four active GSOs are used to identify
and illustrate three major mediating activities that GSOs perform in connecting top-level
funders and grassroots groups. These activities are: cultural liasonship, partner
networking, and resource transmission. The research delves specifically into the issues
behind the creation and maintenance of development actor-networks consisting of toplevel
funders, grassroots organizations, and GSOs in which the GSOs play a connective role. Four primary disparity boundaries between top-level funders and grassroots
organizations that GSOs must effectively bridge are identified and investigated. These
are compensation, organizational structure, access to technology, and privilege. The
influence of the development paradigms of participatory development, the human
capabilities approach, human rights framework, and neoliberalism on actor-network
negotiations is described. The paper suggests tools developed from ANT analysis that
GSOs may use for reflexive analysis to increase internal capability regarding the
performance mediating activities. These tools include actor-network mapping, resource
flow mapping, and a cartography of controversies.
University of Minnesota M.S. thesis. December 2012. Major: Science, Technology, and Environmental Policy. Advisor: Kathryn Quick, M.C.P., Ph.D., 1 computer file (PDF); vii, 88 pages, appendices A-B.
Dousa, Patrik Michal.
Using actor-network theory to enhance the mediating activities of grassroots support organizations.
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