Thursday, 27 October 2011

Criticism of "structureless groups"

Found this at a socialist website, writing specifically about OWS:
This is the "ideology of structurelessness" analysed by the American feminist, Jo Freeman, in 1970 in her essay on The Tyranny of Structurelessness.

At that time in the womens movement the same emphasis was placed "on what are called leaderless, structureless groups as the main focus of the movement" as Occupy Wall St does today.

Freeman showed that there was in fact no such thing as a structureless group, only formally and informally structured groups:

"Contrary to what we would like to believe, there is no such thing as a structureless group. Any group of people of whatever nature coming together for any length of time, for any purpose, will inevitably structure itself in some fashion...the idea becomes a smokescreen for the strong or the lucky to establish unquestioned hegemony over others.

This hegemony can easily be established because the idea of structurelessness does not prevent the formation of informal structures, but only formal ones...Thus structurelessness becomes a way of masking power...For everyone to have the opportunity to be involved in a given group and to participate in its activities the structure must be explicit, not implicit...

An unstructured group always has an informal, or covert, structure. It is this informal structure, particularly in unstructured groups, which forms the basis for elites...

When informal elites are combined with a myth of structurelessness, there can be no attempt to put limits on the use of power. It becomes capricious..."
The full essay can be read here. Very good it is too.

No comments: