Governmental policies for ICT diffusion and leadership legitimacy in grassroots movements
This empirical investigation focuses on environmental-education virtual communities and points out how the Brazilian government, through specific legislation, has increased the legitimacy of some of their members in relation to others in decision-making processes in the studied collectives. In demanding that some anchor organisations assume the formal responsibility for funded projects that aimed to diffuse Internet communication channels among environmental educators, the Brazilian government affected how community members perceived the power distribution in online collectives. Although other forces were behind the construction of legitimacy of community leaders, members broadly recognized that the law was an important factor in the construction of a common understanding on who had power in decision making. Drawing upon institutional theory, this chapter analyses how the specific legislation influenced the way community members perceived the legitimacy of their leaders. The chapter claims that policies for spreading the use of ICTs among grassroots movements and civil society organisations have direct effects in relation to their governance structures, and thus these policies should be under broader scrutiny.
Keywords: Information society, policy, ICT, social movements, institutions