Jo Freeman’s seminal essay “The Tyranny of Structurelessness” put a name to the persistent problem that plagues decision makers in non-hierarchical . Title: The Tyranny of Structurelessness. Series: General and According to Jo Freeman, “This piece spread all over the world. Numerous people have edited. Structurelessness Jillian Báez WSQ: Women’s Studies Quarterly, Volume 41, Numbers 3 & 4, Fall/Winter , pp. (Article) Published by The.

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These new informal elites are often perceived as ko by the old informal elites previously developed within different movement groups. Be clear on who holds what authority, why, and how they are accountable.

The Tyranny Of Structurelessness

When a group has no specific task and consciousness raising is a task thr, the people in it turn their energies to controlling others in the group. The question is rather how we can design a flexible structure that meets our needs and enables those whom we want to participate, to participate easily. Thus structurelessness becomes a way of masking power, and within the women’s movement is usually most strongly advocated by those who are the most powerful whether they are conscious of their power or not.

Thanks for telling us about the problem. J-B rated it liked it Jan 26, In essence, a few select spokespeople erase the long-standing advocacy of immigrant- serving community organizations that regularly support spokespeople and less visible immigrants. But in her mind the ever-present, looming dangers of small, informal groups always dwarf the minimal problems that so rarely pop up in formal organizations like political parties!


It is the coincidence of these two phenomena which creates elites in any groups and makes them so difficult to break. But the public is conditioned to look for spokespeople. The Power of Organizing Without Organizations.

The Tyranny of Stuctureless

While working in this kind of group is a very heady experience, it is also rare and very hard to replicate. Tyranmy who do not know the rules and are not chosen for initiation must remain in confusion, or suffer from paranoid delusions that something is happening of which they are not quite aware.

This is not always possible. Wow, someone else who’s read this essay which I agree is a classic. They listen more attentively, and interrupt less; they repeat each other’s points and give in amiably; they tend to ignore or grapple with the “outs” whose approval is not necessary for making a decision. You see, the latter have explicit rules, formal leaders and agreed-upon membership roles that maximize effectiveness while minimizing the irresponsible, elitist, undemocratic excesses to which informal groups are so defenseless.

Because elites are informal does not mean they are invisible. All groups create informal structures as a result of interaction patterns among the members of the group. This inevitably limits group participants to about five, or excludes some from some of the decisions. We need to be on guard for authoritarian, hierarchical, dominating and exploitative relationships in every sphere of society.

The informal structure is rarely together enough or in touch enough with the people to be able to operate effectively. Similarly “laissez faire” philosophy did not prevent the economically powerful from establishing control over wages, prices, and distribution of goods; it only prevented the government from doing so.


When an informal network spreads new ideas and information among themselves outside the group, they are already engaged in the process of forming an opinion — without the group participating.

Beware the tyranny of structurelessness | Beautiful Trouble

It doesn’t even have a way of deciding what they are. As in the case of Arellano, there was little mention in the news coverage of the student groups and community organizations Andiola worked closely with to produce and circulate the video and subsequent communication with news media.

If people are selected to do a task, preferably after expressing an interest or willingness to do it, they have made a commitment which cannot so easily be ignored. Her reason for this is essentially the ludicrous definition she gives to elitism: When these principles are applied, they insure that whatever structures are developed by different movement groups will be controlled by and responsible to the group.

Freeman thinks that informal groups are politically impotent.

Knowing how to behave is itself not unimportant. Georgette rated it liked it Dec 07, She did participate in the Berkeley Structurelessnes Speech Movement long ago. There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Enter the email address you signed up with and we’ll email you a reset link.

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