Gerlach - Corporate Groups and Movement Networks in Urban America

Gerlach - Corporate Groups and Movement Networks in Urban America
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  Corporate Groups and Movement Networks in Urban AmericaAuthor(s): Luther P. GerlachSource: Anthropological Quarterly, Vol. 43, No. 3, Urbanism and Corporate Groups (SpecialIssue) (Jul., 1970), pp. 123-145Published by: The George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research Stable URL: . Accessed: 21/10/2014 11:09 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of the Terms & Conditions of Use, available at  .  . JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact  . The George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research  is collaborating with JSTOR todigitize, preserve and extend access to  Anthropological Quarterly. This content downloaded from on Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:09:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  CORPORATE GROUPS AND MOVEMENT NETWORKS IN URBAN AMERICA LUTHER P. GERLACH University of Minnesota Black Power, Neo-Pentecostalism and ecology activism are examples of Movements of Personal Transformation and Revolutionary Change. Each of these movements consists of diverse local groups which interact in a poly- cephalous and reticulate organization. An examination of the structure and internal dynamics of any single local group, treated as a separate corporate entity, has limita- tions. In Pentecostalism this approach leads to an unpro- ductive concern with the sect-denomination dichtomy. In Black Power it over-emphasizes disorganization and fac- tionalism. In environmental activism this approach incor- rectly treats local groups as but special interest associations. We suggest that such groups be examined as cells within the body of a total social movement. That is, the best strategy for the study of social movements is to examine various local movement groups as interrelated segments within a system of groups. In this context, we shift focus to group interaction, interdependence and function. I. INTRODUCTION A. Movements of Personal Transformation and Social Change. For the United States of America, this is a time of system- changing and identity-transforming movements in social, eco- logical and religious spheres. Some examples of these include: Black Power, the New Left, Women's Liberation, Ecology Ac- tivism, and the Charismatic Renewal, neo-Pentecostalism, pirit- ualism and the Underground Church. Participants n these and other movements are engaging in various different but po- tentially converging collective endeavors to protest established conditions, o challenge conventional wisdom, and to promulgate attitudinal and structural change across the range of our social and cultural system. These movements are individually signifi- cant, have the potential of converging nto a multi-revolution, nd 123 This content downloaded from on Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:09:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  124 ANTHROPOLOGICAL QUARTERLY represent a class of events which we can term Movements of Personal Transformation nd Social Change. These contemporary ocial movements and other movements through history have occasioned much popular and scholarly speculation about their presumed causes and consequences. One popular view has it that movements are spontaneous xplosions S. . of mindless, often fanatic crowds, led by charismatic prophets . . . who appear suddenly and inexplicably out of nowhere . . . and generate an ever-increasing orce by some strange process of attraction. (Moorehead 1960: 222-3) In contrast, another popular approach is to believe that establishment-challenging movements are too well organized and therefore must be secret conspiracies nder the control of an alien mastermind. The movements which we have studied through field research, namely Black Power, the Charismatic Renewal, and Environ- mental Action (since 1968 we call it Participatory Ecology) are neither unstructured nd mysterious spontaneous xplosions of hysteric crowds, nor are they the products, respectively, of a master planner and his devoted disciples. We regard hese system- changing movements as themselves developing socio-cultural ys- tems. Most significantly, they have (1) an identifiable social, political and economic organization; (2) a means of recruiting new members; (3) a process by which members are encul- turated and committed o the movement; (4) a developing deol- ogy; and (5) a boundary establishing and unity-generating process by which participants dentify and stand together against real or perceived opposition. We have discussed these char- acteristics in detail in other publications. With this focus on movement structure and function, we are more concerned with movements as producers of change than movements as products of change or of conditions of disorganization nd deprivation. As such our approach is different from, but complementary o the approach of Aberle (1965), Hoffer (1951, 1963), Lanternari (1963), Linton 1943), and Gurr 1967). Our major concern has been the analysis of the social organi- zation of the movements we studied. In our analysis we have de- scribed the organization of these movements as essentially seg- mentary-that is composed of many proliferating groups or cells; polycephalous and decentralized-that is, led by many heads and This content downloaded from on Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:09:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions  CORPORATE GROUPS IN URBAN AMERICA 125 not directed by a central command structure; and reticulate- that is having a network-like structure within which the various cells intersect and overlap. B. Level of Analysis; the Corporate Group or the Relationships Among Groups in a System. This concern with organization brings us to the subject of this special issue that is, to the study of group structure and function. As I understand it, our main focus should be the study of urban groups which have the qualities of corporation. That is, we are concerned with groups which are more than mere statistical aggregates, or social categories. We seek to determine the extent to which groups in urban settings have such attributes as (1) in- volvement in some corporate action, (2) leadership with the authority to represent the group as a whole, (3) control of property as a group, (4) group identity, or consciousness of kind, (5) shared or similar beliefs and values (6) a system of shared rights, duties and obligations which are distinct from and persist beyond those of the individuals who make up the group. It is to be expected that as anthropologists become more involved with urban studies some will be interested in ways in which peo- ples migrating to the city from tribal societies do or do not form such urban-based associations of varying corporateness in order to help them cope with city life. A number of studies about such associations are available, of which Little's West African Urbanization (1965) is one example. Papers in this issue consti- tute other examples. At first consideration it would seem that the study of social movements should also be facilitated by the examination of spe- cific local groups according to criteria of group corporateness. Indeed, I had srcinally intended that my paper would focus on the internal workings of a number of such groups, particularly as they appear in Black Power, and more generally in the Black community. This would represent a departure from our other papers about social movements, for in these other studies we were more concerned with the movement as the unit of analysis, rather than its local groups. 1 See Yinger 1930, Troeltsch 1950, Pope 1953, Niebuhr 1957, and O'Dea 1960. This content downloaded from on Tue, 21 Oct 2014 11:09:52 AMAll use subject to JSTOR Terms and Conditions
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