How nonprofits use Facebook to craft infrastructure




social media, moral economies, infrastructure, non-profit organizations, civic engagement


We present findings from interviews with 23 individuals affiliated with non-profit organizations (NPOs) to understand how they deploy information and communication technologies (ICTs) in their civic engagement efforts. Existing research about NPO ICT use is often critical, but we did not find evidence that NPOs fail to use tools effectively. Rather, we detail how NPOs assemble various ICTs to create infrastructures that align with their values. Overall, we find that existing theories about technology choice (e.g., task-technology fit, uses and gratifications) do not explain the assemblages NPOs describe. We argue that the infrastructures they fashion can be explained through the lens of moral economies rather than utility. Together, the rhetorics of infrastructure and moral economies capture the motivations and constraints our participants expressed and challenge how prevailing theories of ICT use describe the non-profit landscape.

Author Biographies

Libby Hemphill, University of Michigan

Associate Professor of Information at the University of Michigan School of Information, a research associate professor at the Institute for Social Research, and the director of the Resource Center for Minority Data at the Inter-university Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR)

A.J. Million, University of Michigan

Research Investigator, Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan

Ingrid Erickson, Syracuse University

Assistant Professor, School of Information Studies, Syracuse University




How to Cite

Hemphill, L., Million, A., & Erickson, I. (2021). How nonprofits use Facebook to craft infrastructure. First Monday, 26(3).