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From Social Movement to Moral Market
How the Circuit Riders Sparked an IT Revolution and Created a Technology Market

Paul-Brian McInerney


2014, Available Now

256 pp.
1 table, 3 figures.
ISBN: 9780804785129
Cloth $55.00
ISBN: 9780804789066
E-book $55.00

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"From Social Movement to Moral Market offers a great analysis of how values shape economic institutions, looking at what happens to a market when movement activists enter and try to change it. A strong contribution to the vibrant field of economic sociology."—Fabio Rojas, Indiana University and author of From Black Power to Black Studies: How a Radical Social Movement Became an Academic Discipline

"This is an exceptionally engaging account of how the visible hands of activists power the creation of markets. It suggests that the very success of activists in imbuing markets with their values also presages their demise and, thereby, presents an important lesson for all economic sociologists."—Hayagreeva Rao, Atholl McBean Professor of Organizational Behavior and Human Resources, Graduate School of Business, Stanford University

"Paul-Brian McInerney demonstrates how market activists resolve the tensions between the demands of the market and the values and morals that give meaning and authenticity to their work. This highly original book serves as a valuable bridge between social movement theory, economic sociology, and technology studies."—Brayden King, Kellogg School of Management, Northwestern University

In From Social Movement to Moral Market, Paul-Brian McInerney explores what happens when a movement of activists gives way to a market for entrepreneurs. This book explains the transition by tracing the brief and colorful history of the Circuit Riders, a group of activists who sought to lead nonprofits across the digital divide. In a single decade, this movement spawned a market for technology assistance providers, dedicated to serving nonprofit organizations. In contrast to the Circuit Riders' grassroots approach, which was rooted in their commitment to a cause, these consultancies sprung up as social enterprises, blending the values of the nonprofit sector with the economic principles of for-profit businesses. Through a historical-institutional analysis, this narrative shows how the values of a movement remain intact even as entrepreneurs displace activists. While the Circuit Riders serve as a rich core example in the book, McInerney's findings speak to similar processes in other "moral markets," such as organic food, exploring how the evolution from movement to market impacts activists and enterprises alike.

Paul-Brian McInerney is Assistant Professor of Sociology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research focuses on economic and organizational sociology, social studies of technology, social movements and collective behavior, and qualitative methods.



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