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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Network Power for Social Change: Grassroots Organizing Efforts via Information Technologies in California’s Central Valley


This article analyzes how two community organizing networks in California’s Central Valley, the Central Valley Partnership (CVP) and the Civic Action Network (CAN), use information technologies to create strong multi-ethnic advocacy groups. Like formal organizational structures “from above,” these grassroots groups “from below” take advantage of information tech- nologies to maximize limited resources and minimize barriers to collective action to further their social justice agendas. By utilizing Castells’ Informa- tion Age framework and emerging theories from the planning field on “network power” through collaboration, this article addresses the research gap on grassroots-level networks and identifies the type of power these organizations can attain by networking via information technologies. The article examines the social morphology of these two grassroots networks and reveals the technological obstacles and constraints for community development organizations that use information technology to form advo- cacy networks. The research finds that the two case study networks strate- gically use information technologies to their advantage to increase and strengthen the inter-connectivity of their network communication structure, thereby increasing the power of their network.

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