Robin Piazzo

Digital Technologies and Political Organizations

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The study of digital organizing has led scholars to question some assumptions of Olson’s theory of collective action. In particular, it has been suggested the possibility of overcoming organizations in favor of organizationless collective action, as digital technologies lead to a fall in the costs of action and coordination, therefore making organizations superfluous. In this paper I intend to discuss the actual scope of the organizationless organizing hypothesis, in the light of a more than ten-year debate on the different forms of political organization and collective action. In particular, I will propose a framework to explain the fact that political organizations have not decreased in number nor converged towards highly digitised models, first analysing the types of organizational costs that are not lowered by the use of the internet and then the incentives, specific to each type of organization, to limit the organizationally transformative leverage of the decentralizing affordances of ICTs. The kind of un-cut costs taken into account here relate to the following aspects: offline logistics for digitally facilitated mobilizations; abeyance; expertise and training; building and managing private platforms; dangerous actions and scenario change. As for the incentives not to leverage digital technologies, these are both endogenous to organizations – related to specific organizational aims and to path dependency – and exogenous – releated to the arenas in which organizations act.


  • digital advocacy
  • collective action
  • digital technologies
  • digital parties
  • digital movements


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