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Building Platforms Differently: Collective Action and Legitimation Dynamics in the Field of Platform Cooperativism

How do alternative conceptions of exchange emerge and proliferate within platform capitalism? Drawing on research at the intersection of organizational theory and social movement studies and a data set of 18 interviews, this paper examines the strategies that founders of cooperatively-structured platforms employ to gain legitimacy for their novel organizational form.

Three key findings are presented: 1), to facilitate network extension, activists strategically encroach upon adjacent fields. 2), to ensure economic survival, activists either create sustainable “subcultures” within existing fields or attempt to mobilize entirely new consumer audiences. 3), to compensate for a lack of resources, activists strategically cultivate "community".

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