(Freeman 2001) The tyranny of structurelessness

Freeman, Jo. The tyranny of structurelessness. 2001. Earlier versions published 1972–1973; based on a talk given at a conference called by the Southern Female Rights Union in Beulah, Mississippi in May 1970. Available from: http://www.jofreeman.com/joreen/tyranny.htm. Accessed 2013 Apr 9. Archived by WebCite at http://www.webcitation.org/6FkzP4IrH.

Freeman argues, in the context of the women’s liberation movement, that the ideal of a structureless, leaderless group is misguided, and tends in practice to lead to domination by an unofficial elite. Freeman recognizes this ideal as an understandable reaction to the overstructured authoritarianism of the general society, but denies that a truly structureless group can exist in practice. There is always an informal structure formed by networks of friendship between individuals within the group; in the absence of democratic controls and checks imposed on this informal structure by the group as a whole, one such network will inevitably become an elite exercising unaccountable power and influence.The needed democratic control can only be achieved by the imposition of formal structures responsible to the entire group.


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Last revision: April 9, 2013