Blurred discourses: how market isomorphism constrains and enables collective action in civil society

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)


Civil society – both national and transnational – is produced through the activities and discourses of a plurality of social actors, including political parties, NGOs and (new) social movements, media organizations, third sector organizations, market firms, and professional and trade associations. To understand the current dynamics of civil society, we need to combine the concept of the plurality with the investigation of a second phenomenon: namely, that in our globalized landscape master ideas and patterns of practices travel and materialize not only across national borders but also across different spheres of institutional life. In opposition to mainstream diffusionist explanations of the travel of ideas, we use Latour and Callon’s translation model as a theoretical tool for reading an ‘exemplary’ case study taken from a broader Italian research programme. In particular, our aim is to provide some insights about how the current emphasis on economic performance and managerialization is translated into organizational processes of everyday activity regarding one of the most traditional collective actors of civil society, the third sector organization. The case considered here is a cooperative, whose origins are rooted in an encounter with Africa, and which is now engaged in a fair trade network. Specifically, we depict the complex system of meaning and practices that characterize this field when economic categories and priorities (for example rationalization, calculative action and efficiency) meet and blend with more conventional and expected logics of action (for example solidarity, emancipation and expressive behaviour) that are embedded within it.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)47-67
Number of pages21
JournalGlobal Networks
Publication statusPublished - 2005


  • Società civile
  • commercio equo e solidale
  • traslazione


Dive into the research topics of 'Blurred discourses: how market isomorphism constrains and enables collective action in civil society'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this