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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We need to understand why “structurelessness” does not work. The first official place of publication was in Vol. The rules of decision-making must be open and available to everyone, and this can happen only if they are formalized.

Erica rated it it was amazing Jul 25, This is not always freejan. But it is necessary for the “outs” to stay on good terms with the “ins. These friendship networks are based upon their common nonfeminist politics rather than the characteristics discussed earlier, but operate in much the same way.

It’s accurate down to the very same ideological justifications used to embrace structurelessness, and the exact individual problems that we ran into which prevented anything from getting done.

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The Tyranny of Structurelessness

Garrick Jannene rated it it was amazing Sep 22, However, that same structureless nature, in which anyone can appar- ently participate equally, is also problematic. One wants the organizers and contributors in open projects to align themselves with the values of the project. This is not always perfectly possible, but should be striven for. In many respects, unconferences and some open source projects are reactions to the challenges and limitations of structure — a move away from top-heavy governance that limits creativity, stifles action and slows the flow of information.


This means that to strive for a structureless group is as useful, and as deceptive, as to aim at an “objective” news story, “value-free” social science, or a “free” economy. Those political organizations which see women’s liberation as only one of many issues to which women should devote their time thus find the movement a vast recruiting ground for new members.

Because elites are informal does not mean they are invisible. Ability, interest, and responsibility have got to be the major concerns in such selection. At this point they usually foundered because most groups were unwilling to change their structure when they changed their tasks. Apr 29, Aaliyah Zionov rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is only natural, but its implications for women’s liberation have never been adequately discussed.

These friendship groups function as networks of communication outside any regular channels for such communication that may have been set up by a group.

This means those who disagree with the elite or just the group in general can create an alternative structure or strike up a new conversation.

Kennedy School of GovernmentFall The characteristics prerequisite for participating in the informal elites of the movement, and thus for exercising power, concern one’s background, personality, or allocation of time.

If the movement is to grow beyond these elementary stages of development, it will have to disabuse itself of some of its prejudices about organization and structure. The essay reflected on the experiments of the feminist movement in resisting the idea of leaders and even discarding any structure or division of labor.

Ilana rated it liked it Sep 29, We cannot decide whether to have a structured or structureless group, only whether or not to have a formally structured one.

The Tyranny Of Structurelessness by Jo Freeman

The looseness and informality of it encouraged participation in discussion, and its often supportive atmosphere elicited personal insight. It goes without saying that the author is not, nor has she ever been, an anarchist.


Mostly, we will have to experiment with different kinds of structuring rreeman develop a variety of techniques to use for different situations.

Different versions were published in the Berkeley Journal of Sociology, Vol. They can be and often are misused, but to reject them out of hand because they are misused is to deny ourselves the necessary tools to further development. The old elites are rarely willing to bring structurelessndss differences of opinion out into the open because it would involve exposing the nature of the informal structure of the group.

So I’d rather have Freeman’s and Shirky’s arguments seen as identification of certain real! Avery rated it really liked it Apr 11, Eventually, she will most likely bring you into the inner circle. While these conditions can occur serendipitously in small groups, this is not possible in large ones. Make it as clear as possible to participants what is valued and never pretend otherwise.

Successful groups can be as large as 10 or 15, but only when they are in fact composed of several smaller subgroups which perform specific parts of the task, and whose members overlap with each other so that knowledge of what the different subgroups are doing can be passed around easily.

A Journal of Desire Armed.