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Leadership, Leaderlessness and Leaderless Groups: The case of the Occupy London Movement

Elmi Keshtiban, Amir (2018) Leadership, Leaderlessness and Leaderless Groups: The case of the Occupy London Movement. PhD thesis, University of Essex.

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Abstract

This thesis investigates how ‘leaderless’ social movements are coordinated and sustained by their members. Drawing on an empirical study of the London Occupy protests, it emphasises the socially-constructed nature of ‘leaderlessness’, arguing that the London Occupy movement can be understood as an ensemble of symbolic meanings, practical accomplishments and communicative political actions that allowed activists to mobilise and develop a broad-ranging repertoire of protest. The thesis examines how divergent but interrelated modalities, including occupation of physical and virtual space, appropriation of both ‘new’ and ‘old’ media and dramaturgical use of physical artefacts (most notably the Guy Fawkes mask), were deployed in ways that instantiated a series of highly-charged political ‘spectacles’, challenging the dominance of the capitalist economic order. This thesis also considers whether the Occupy movement represents a new template for twenty-first-century political activism. Whilst the movement can be seen as distinctively new, in the sense that it operates ‘virtually’ and without a fixed political programme or formal structure, similar political actions can be traced back to the protest movements of the 1960s and to eighteenth- and nineteenth-century struggles.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Subjects: H Social Sciences > H Social Sciences (General)
Divisions: Faculty of Social Sciences > Essex Business School > Centre for Work, Organisation and Society
Depositing User: Amir Elmi Keshtiban
Date Deposited: 02 Mar 2018 10:10
Last Modified: 02 Mar 2018 10:10
URI: http://repository.essex.ac.uk/id/eprint/21555

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