Wednesday, April 6, 2011

06 Collective Action and Institutional Challenges

Extensive media coverage of the Catholic priest scandal in 2002 ignited public fury that led to the formation of a group called Voice of the Faithful (VOTF). This group demanded structural change in the church which ultimately led to the resignation of the bishop and forced the church to take some steps to reform itself.
Technological social tools, such as websites and email, have increased the effectiveness and efficiency of information sharing by providing alternate mediums for group affiliation and communication, making it easier to coordinate collective action.
Furthermore, technological advance has removed obstacles of distance and acquiring information. Change is much easier through the masses now, as opposed to the past when it often resulted from pushes within the elite class. For the first time in Catholic history, mass calls for change were not coming from the priesthood as they had for centuries (Luther to Latin American Liberation Theology).
In sum, social tools don’t create collective action - they remove obstacles to it (through speed and cost of transmission, ease of use, and the ability to be easily modified).

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