Communication that fosters collective action is considered a key driver of transformational change. This study explores the role that cooperatives could play in transforming the current unsustainable food system toward sustainability. The focal point of the study is how communication processes of nonprofit cooperative forms of collective action can optimize their transformative capacity and, in a wider context, contribute to agricultural transformation. The study addresses former research on transformation, in particular on how transformation is triggered at local level. To assess how transformation can be stimulated in practice, the case of a new food cooperative – Farming Communities, a grassroots initiative in the south of the Netherlands – is investigated. Farming Communities serves as an example of an innovative form of food production and illustrates how collective action and connective action come about through interaction. Collective action, depending on the quality and the results of interaction, is fostered by acknowledged vertical and horizontal interdependence and a certain level of trust. Interaction dynamics for collective action can enhance transformative capacity by emergent new ways of doing, knowing, framing, and organizing. Furthermore, the concept of connective action is introduced, which entails interaction dynamics among individuals who share ideas and opinions via networked technologies. Connective action can overcome the fragility of a single local initiative and is suitable for enhancing the transformative capacity of a grassroots initiative. However, a surplus of connection action could hamper the robustness of collective action. Cooperatives are therefore challenged to find a fruitful balance between collective action and connective action.
The Routledge Handbook of Nonprofit Communication
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