Organizing for power: understanding changing conceptions of power in rural community organizing
Master of Arts degree with a major in Sociology
Committee Chair Name
Dr. Michihiro Sugata
Committee Chair Affiliation
HSU Faculty or Staff
Second Committee Member Name
Dr. James Ordner
Community organizing is a practice of building and utilizing collective power, often initiated by groups who have little or no preexisting social or economic power. By acting together in a disciplined, organized, and targeted fashion, organizing is used to exert influence in the public square to achieve policy outcomes, provide mutual aid, and reweave the fabric of social relations in communities, frequently in direct opposition to existing power structures. Thus, creating a shared understanding of power that is fundamentally liberative is key to the success of organizing efforts and moreover, to creating lasting community cohesion that can continue to mount effective opposition to domination and oppression. The analyses in this project are the result of in-depth, semi-structured interviews with highly active members of a rural community organizing network, True North Organizing Network, that operates in schools and faith- and spirituality-based institutions in Del Norte and Humboldt counties and adjacent Tribal lands in rural Northern California. Interview data was analyzed in parallel with field notes taken over more than two years of participant observation. Analyses showed strong connections between conceptions of power, spirituality, and conflict that indicate the importance of organizational approaches that challenge normative understandings of dominating power or power over. The project presents these connections and moves towards hypothesizing new methods for analyzing the efficacy of community organizing practices through generating collective shifts in conceptions of power as collective and relational.
Morden, Evan R., "Organizing for power: understanding changing conceptions of power in rural community organizing" (2022). Cal Poly Humboldt theses and projects. 599.
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