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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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Radical isomorphism and the anti-authoritarian diffusion of leaderless organizations

Radical isomorphism and the anti-authoritarian diffusion of leaderless organizations

(p.199) 8 Radical isomorphism and the anti-authoritarian diffusion of leaderless organizations
Black Flags and Social Movements

Dana M. Williams

Manchester University Press

Social movements are interested in the creation of alternative social practices, but must rely upon previous ideas and actions for a starting place. Ideally, anarchists seek to borrow good ideas and avoid bad ideas. This is challenging given anarchist movements’ horizontalist structures—tactics and organizational forms must be transmitted non-hierarchically in order to remain legitimate, as there is not central organization managing, authorizing, and dictating to new anarchist organizations. They key means for institutional isomorphism—how organizations tend to have comparable characteristics—with anarchist movements, is mimicry. This chapter analyses the creation and founding iterations of four “anarchistic franchise organizations”: Anti-Racist Action, Critical Mass, Earth First!, and Food Not Bombs. These tactics and organizational forms have spread through networks of activists and organizers (mainly via word-of-mouth and first-hand experience) and media (especially the Internet, as well as activist press and sometimes mainstream media).

Keywords:   Institutional isomorphism, tactical diffusion, imitation, franchise

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