Democracy requires collective action—but not all forms of collective action are the same. Scholars need a more coherent intellectual infrastructure to differentiate distinct forms of collective action and to identify the kinds of collective action that enable democracy. We distinguish between two types of collective action: organizing, which seeks to transform individuals and groups into effective agents who can shape public outcomes, and mobilizing, which seeks to aggregate and articulate preferences in the public sphere with no explicit focus on individual or organizational change. We review work identifying the dimensions of possible transformation at the micro, meso, and macro levels, and existing evidence for it. We urge scholars to study organizing separate from (and in comparison to) mobilizing and suggest possible research strategies and questions. In doing so, we aim to provide a foundation for future research on organizing and its relationship to democracy.

Expected final online publication date for the , Volume 27 is June 2024. Please see http://www.annualreviews.org/page/journal/pubdates for revised estimates.


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  • Article Type: Review Article
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