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The Cement of Civil Society
Studying Networks in Localities


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Part of Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics

  • Author: Mario Diani, Università degli Studi di Trento, Italy
  • Date Published: May 2015
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107100008

£ 78.99

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About the Authors
  • Civil society is frequently conceived as a field of multiple organizations, committed to highly diverse causes and interests. When studied empirically, however, its properties are often reduced to the sum of the traits and attitudes of the individuals or groups that are populating it. This book shows how to move from an 'aggregative' to a relational view of civil society. Drawing upon field work on citizens' organizations in two British cities, this book combines network analysis and social movement theories to show how to represent civil society as a system of relations between multiple actors. 'Modes of coordination' enables us to identify different logics of collective action within the same local settings. The book exposes the weakness of rigid dichotomies, separating the voluntary sector from social movements, 'civic' activism oriented to service delivery from 'un-civic' protest, grassroots activism external to institutions from formal, professionalized organizations integrated within the 'system'.

    • Offers a set of tools to conduct sophisticated and sound analysis of citizens' associational forms
    • Shows how different types of organizations may connect in different ways in different contexts
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    • Honourable mention, 2015–2017 Best Book Award, Political Networks Section, American Political Science Association

    Reviews & endorsements

    'Social movements are just one among several important and interrelated modes of coordinating collective action. Networks are outcomes of, rather than preconditions for, sustained interactions among groups and organizations. Elaborating this vision, Mario Diani puts social movements in their place and turns networks on their head while cementing the foundation of a truly innovative framework for rigorous analysis of civil society as a distinct field. Read this book as a blueprint for the future of research on collective action in civil society.' Ronald Breiger, University of Arizona

    'By moving beyond aggregative, trait-based views of social and political structure to relational conceptions, Diani deftly turns the kaleidoscope to reveal heretofore unseen patterns in civil society. His fascinating findings supplement some existing literature while turning some traditional conclusions on their heads. This work creates a new, compelling imperative for incorporating complex network dynamics into research on civil society organizing.' Janet L. Fulk, University of Southern California

    '… a major contribution to relational sociology, the study of civil society and social movement studies. Diani's book is a huge step in the right direction, not only for political sociology and social movement studies, but for sociology more generally. Let us hope that it taps into the current relational momentum in sociology, infusing it with the methodological and empirical dimension which, sadly, it often lacks, and thus perhaps helping to make a genuine difference to the discipline.' Nick Crossley, PArtecipazione e COnflitto

    'The Cement of Civil Society advances such a rich and insightful research agenda … [It] provides an impressive theoretical contribution to the literature on civic networks and social movements. Finally, the epistemological and methodological reorientation Diani proposes throughout this book will certainly embody a long-lasting contribution to the way we think and study the structure of local civil societies.' Gianluca De Fazio, PArtecipazione e COnflitto

    'Mario Diani's masterful new book … convincingly argues that relations are central to understanding contentious politics … this is an important book that will serve as a primary reference on social movement networks. I was not only thoroughly impressed by its theoretical and methodological sophistication, but also by its careful and logical structure. Diani patiently guides the reader through an extremely complex process that reveals how relations are constructed and structured, and how they affect practices and influence in two different cities. The book is a must read for any scholar and student interested in social movements and contentious politics.' Walter J. Nicholls, PArtecipazione e COnflitto

    'The Cement of Civil Society … brings valuable insights for the study of nonprofit organizations, mainly by showing how the distinction between formal organizations and informal groups may hide practices and relationships that are relevant for understanding the role and possibilities of civil society … it is a valuable contribution to the discussion of the relationship between nonprofits, social movements, and other civil society groups.' Marcelo Marchesini, Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly

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    Product details

    • Date Published: May 2015
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107100008
    • length: 268 pages
    • dimensions: 237 x 158 x 25 mm
    • weight: 0.6kg
    • contains: 24 b/w illus. 54 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: of King Solomon, Goethe, and civic networks
    1. Modes of coordination of collective action
    2. The importance of local comparisons: civic organizations in British cities
    3. Building civic networks: strategies of tie formation
    4. The structural bases of civil society
    5. Network positions and their incumbents
    6. The duality of organizations and events
    7. Network centrality and leadership
    8. Civic networks and urban governance
    9. 'Networking' contentious politics
    Postfaction: bringing time and space(s) into the picture.

  • Author

    Mario Diani, Università degli Studi di Trento, Italy
    Mario Diani is Professor of Sociology in the University of Trento. His publications include Social Movements (with Donatella della Porta, 2006), Social Movements and Networks (co-edited with Doug McAdam, 2003) and Green Networks (1995). He served as the European editor of Mobilization from 1997–2005 and has served on the editorial board of a number of journals, including Contemporary Sociology (2006–8) and, currently, Interest Groups and Advocacy and Quaderni di Sociologia.


    • Honourable mention, 2015–2017 Best Book Award, Political Networks Section, American Political Science Association

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