The Local Ecology of New Movement Organizations

Date of Original Version




Abstract or Table of Contents

Recent scholarship from political science, urban studies, and sociology conceptualizes the city as a space of decentralized democracy – a view emphasizing localization, participation, difference, and anti-hierarchical organizational form. Instead of conceiving the city as a place of atomized individuals and a locale for market exchange, this alternative framework recognizes the city‟s role as “civitas” – a “space of active democratic citizenship” and “full human realization” based on open and free encounter and exchange with difference. The current research emerges from and fills a need within this perspective by examining how local urban contexts undergird and bolster new movement organizations (NMOs). Theory elaborates how urban density, land-use mix, and connectivity generate and enable interaction with the social diversity fundamental to decentralized and anti-hierarchical movements. In addition, theory also examines how urban walking mediates the relationships between these urban contextual traits and NMOs. Linear regression is used to assess the direct effects of density, connectivity, land-use mix, and urban walking on NMO activity (measured as human rights, environmental, and social advocacy groups), and the Sobel and Freedman-Schatzkin tests are employed to assess mediation.