From God to Markets. An Analysis of the Meaning Work of Boundary Actors During the 'Mainstreaming' of Socially Responsible Investment
66 Pages Posted: 16 Oct 2014
Date Written: October 1, 2014
Meaning work is a key category of institutional work, which aims at maintaining or changing of field-level meanings. Mobilizing institutional analysis of field level change processes and the social movement framing literature, this study conceptualizes the types of meaning work that actor at the boundary of a social movement and the incumbent field undertake in the process of “mainstreaming”. Mainstreaming in this paper is defined as a process whereby a social movement succeeds in diffusing its norms, values or practices across the wider incumbent field. During the past few decades, socially responsible investment (SRI) has shifted from being a marginal, religious, mostly US-based movement to an influential international movement, which has succeeded in mobilizing a large number of incumbent investors and financial organizations. Based on a multi-stage qualitative analysis of the SRI field during the past 50 years, this study first establishes the structural changes that define a field undergoing mainstreaming. It then introduces propositions regarding links between these field-level changes and the meaning work that actors at the boundary between a social movement and the incumbent field undertake.
Keywords: field, social movements, framing, institutions, socially responsible investment, meaning
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