Civic Feedbacks

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Democracy is premised on the idea that ordinary people have voice, but what are the conditions under which membership-based interest groups, civic associations, and social movements are able to harness grassroots activity for political influence? Existing theory has limited ability to explain the differential success of grassroots groups. This paper, by Hahrie Han and Andrea Campbell (MIT), introduces the concept of civic feedbacks, which argues that the way that organizations engage individuals has long-term feedbacks that shape the strategic context of organizations in three ways: it affects the range of strategic possibilities of organizations, the network of elite relationships they are able to access, and their ongoing ability to generate commitment among other activists. Analyzing these impacts on organizational strategy enhances our ability to explain differential rates of political influence. By introducing the concept of civic feedbacks, this paper puts organizations and organizational strategy back at the center of our study of political influence and power.

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