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Black Flags and Social MovementsA Sociological Analysis of Movement Anarchism$
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Dana M. Williams

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781526105547

Published to Manchester Scholarship Online: May 2018

DOI: 10.7228/manchester/9781526105547.001.0001

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Introduction to social movements: anarchism as a unique example

Introduction to social movements: anarchism as a unique example

(p.3) 1 Introduction to social movements: anarchism as a unique example
Black Flags and Social Movements

Dana M. Williams

Manchester University Press

Modern societies generally contain multiple, varied social movements that contend for influence or power. Anarchist movements share many similar features as mainstream movements, but also have numerous unique characteristics that require additional attention and qualification. It is crucial to transcend the common perceptions of anarchism (typically associated with chaos, violence, and fantasy) and treat it as a movement. This chapter introduces the central issues relevant to the sociological study of anarchist movements. Mario Diani's (1992) well-known definition of a social movement is employed to understand anarchist movements: networks of individuals and organizations, united by some shared identity, that engage in extra-institutional action with the interest of changing society. This definition is used as the starting place for understanding how anarchist movements are similar and different from other movements (in terms of leadership, representation, and autonomy), and the chapter presents an overview of certain attributes of anarchism that will continue for the next two chapters. Anarchism does satisfy all the requisite criteria for being a social movement. Thus, the chapter models the anti-anarchist counter-network (corporations, governments, and media), considers the various levels of analysis that anarchism could be investigated at, and describes the helpful comparisons worth making to better understand anarchist movements.

Keywords:   Social movements, misperception, anarchism, counter-networks, anarchistic

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