Current Institutional Affiliation
Associate Professor, Sociology, Bradley University

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2000
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Sociology, University of Michigan
Revisiting the Iron Law of Oligarchy: Direct Democracy in German New Social Movement Organizations

This qualitative study examines the relationship between ideology, organizational structure, and the maintenance of direct democracy in German "New Social Movement" organizations. The study, to be carried out in two phases, asks two questions: 1) under what conditions is a non-hierarchical "collectivist" organizational structure sustainable? and 2) under what conditions does sustaining that structure actually prevent the emergence of an oligarchy ·within the group? The first question will be answered through in-depth, semi-structured interviews with the members of 24 German social movement organizations that have maintained the collectivist form for varying lengths of time. In the second phase, the question of oligarchy will be addressed through participant observation and document analysis in two long-lived collectivist groups: one that has developed an informal oligarchy despite the sustaining the collectivist form, and one that has avoided the rise of an oligarchic elite.