Collective Action in the Digital Age: An Actor-Based Typology

  • Ulrich Dolata
  • Jan-Felix Schrape
Part of the SpringerBriefs in Sociology book series (BRIEFSSOCY)


This article investigates two questions: One, how might the very differently structured social collectives on the internet—masses, crowds, communities and movements—be classified and distinguished? And two, what influence do the technological infrastructures in which they operate have on their formation, structure and activities? For this, we differentiate between two main types of social collectives: non-organized collectives, which exhibit loosely coupled collective behavior, and collective actors with a separate identity and strategic capability. Further, we examine the newness, or distinctive traits, of online-based collectives. We consider that newness to be comprised of the strong and hitherto non-existent interplay between the technological infrastructures that these collectives are embedded in and the social processes of coordination and institutionalization they must engage in order to maintain their viability over time. Conventional patterns of social dynamics in the development and stabilization of collective action are now systematically intertwined with technology-induced processes of structuration.


Internet Social media Collective action Non-organized collectives Collective actors Digital infrastructures Socio-technical change 


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute for Social Sciences (SOWI VI)University of StuttgartStuttgartGermany

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