Using actor-network theory to enhance the mediating activities of grassroots support organizations

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Using actor-network theory to enhance the mediating activities of grassroots support organizations

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2012-12

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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.

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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.

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Dousa, Patrik Michal. (2012). Using actor-network theory to enhance the mediating activities of grassroots support organizations. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy, https://hdl.handle.net/11299/143804.

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