Avoid, Talk, or Fight: Alternative Cultural Strategies in the Battle Against Oligarchy in Collectivist-Democratic Organizations

  • Joyce Rothschild
  • Darcy Leach
Part of the Handbooks of Sociology and Social Research book series (HSSR)


As Rund Koopmans has argued (1995) and as Carole Pateman (1970) argued in her theory classic of three decades ago, Participation and Democratic Theory, the actual face-to-face deliberation and debate that goes on in directly democratic groups may be the best way, maybe even the only way, to develop in people the capacity for democracy and self-governance. To date, we do not have a convincing, empirically based, answer to this question. Leach (2005) however, has recently found that, over the last quarter century, literally hundreds of thousands of people in the German social movement sector have been exposed to collectivist-democratic practices and a significant number of these people have come to expect consensus-based decision-making and collectivist-democratic practices in much of their community life. Are the sensibilities and capacities developed in these voluntary, social movement organizations in the modern Germany having a visibly democratizing effect on the nation as a whole? Could they, if these collectivist organizations were to spread in the United States or anywhere else in the world, be the path to reinvigorating democracy? These are important questions for examination.


Personal Attack Democratic Theory Social Movement Organization Hurt Feeling Democratic Group 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Adler, P. and Borys, B. (1996). Two types of bureaucracy: Enabling and coercive. Administrative Science Quarterly, 41:61–89.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Bordt, R. (1997). The Structure of Women’s Nonprofit Organizations. Bloomington: Indiana University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Braverman, H. (1974). Labor and Monopoly Capital: The Degradation of Work in the Twentieth Century. New York: Monthly Review Press.Google Scholar
  4. Cornforth, C., Thomas, A., Lewis, J., and Spear, R. (1988). Developing Successful Worker’s Co-Operatives. London: Sage.Google Scholar
  5. Cnaan, R.A. (1991). Neighborhood representing organizations: How democratic are they? Social Service Review, 65(4):614–634.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Everywoman. (1990). The Everywoman Directory of Women’s Co-Operatives and Other Enterprises. London: Everywoman.Google Scholar
  7. Ferree, M. and Martin, P. (1995). Feminist Organizations: Harvest of the New Women’s Movement. Philadelphia: Temple University Press.Google Scholar
  8. Gouldner, A. (1995). Metaphysical pathos and the theory of bureaucracy. American Political Science Review, 49:496–507.Google Scholar
  9. Hacker, S. (1989). Pleasure, Power and Technology: Some Tales of Gender, Engineering and the Co-Operative Workplace. London: Unwin Hyman.Google Scholar
  10. Iannello, K. (1992). Decisions Without Hierarchy: Feminist Interventions in Organizational Theory and Practice. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  11. Koopmans, R. (1995). Democracy from Below: New Social Movements and the Political System in West Germany. Boulder, CO: Westview.Google Scholar
  12. Leach, D. (2005). The way is the goal: Collectivist democracy in German social movements. Dissertation in progress. Department of Sociology, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  13. Leach, D. K. (1998). Why just go for 51%?: Organizational structure in the religious society of friends. Working Paper, Center for Research on Social Organization, University of Michigan.Google Scholar
  14. Leidner, R. (1991). Stretching the boundaries of liberalism: Democratic innovation in a feminist organization. SIGNS, 16:263–289.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Lichterman, P. (1996). The Search for Political Community: American Activists Reinventing Commitment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Mansbridge, J. (1973). Town meeting democracy. Working Papers for a New Society, 1:5–15.Google Scholar
  17. Mansbridge, J. (1980). Beyond Adversary Democracy. New York: Basic.Google Scholar
  18. Matthews, N. (1994). Confronting Rape: The Feminist Anti-Rape Movement and the State. New York: Routledge.Google Scholar
  19. Michels, R. (1962). Political Parties: A Sociological Study of the Oligarchical Tendencies of Modern Democracy. New York: Free Press.Google Scholar
  20. Pateman, C. (1970). Participation and Democratic Theory. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  21. Reinelt, C. (1994). Fostering empowerment, building community: The challenge for state-funded feminist organizations. Human Relations, 47:685–705.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  22. Reinharz, S. (1983). Consulting to the alternative work setting: A suggested strategy for community psychology. Journal of Community Psychology 11:199–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Rothschild, J. (2003). Situating the contemporary grassroots cooperatives: Intellectual and political origins. In: Community and the World: Participating in Social Change, ed. T. Dickinson, Huntington, NY: NOVA Science, pp. 253–279.Google Scholar
  24. Rothschild, J. and Whitt, J. A. (1986). The Cooperative Workplace: Potentials and Dilemmas of Organizational Democracy and Participation. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  25. Rothschild-Whitt, J. (1979). The collectivist organization: An alternative to rational-bureaucratic models. American Sociological Review, 44:509–527.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  26. Sirianni, C. (1996). Participatory Democracy and Empowerment. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  27. Taylor, F. (1911). Scientific Management. New York: Harper and Row.Google Scholar
  28. Warren, M. (2001). Dry Bones Rattling: Community Building to Revitalize American Democracy. Princeton: Princeton University Press.Google Scholar
  29. Weber, M. (1968). Economy and Society. Ed. G. Roth and C. Wittic, New York: Bedminster.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Science + Business Media, LLC 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Joyce Rothschild
    • 1
  • Darcy Leach
    • 2
  1. 1.Virginia TechUSA
  2. 2.University of MichiganUSA

Personalised recommendations