Black flags and social movements

A sociological analysis of movement anarchism

By Dana M. Williams

Black flags and social movements


  • Hardcover
  • eBook

Book Information

  • Format: Paperback
  • ISBN: 978-1-5261-0555-4
  • Pages: 304
  • Publisher: Manchester University Press
  • Price: £24.99
  • Published Date: November 2017
  • BIC Category: POLITICAL SCIENCE / Political Ideologies / Anarchism, Society & social sciences / Political science & theory, Sociology, Political science & theory, Comparative politics, Anarchism, HISTORY / Social History, SOCIAL SCIENCE / Sociology / General, Politics, Society & social sciences / Comparative politics, Society & social sciences / Anarchism
  • Series: Contemporary Anarchist Studies


Anarchism may be the most misunderstood political ideology of the modern era, and one of the least studied social movements by English-speaking scholars. Black flags and social movements addresses this deficit with an in-depth analysis of contemporary anarchist movements as interpreted by social movement theories and political sociology. Using unique data gathered by anarchists themselves, Williams presents longitudinal and international analyses that focus upon who anarchists are, and where they may be found.

Social movement ideas including political opportunity, new social movements, and social capital theory, are relevant and adaptable to understanding anarchist movements. Due to their sometimes limited numbers and identities as radical anti-authoritarians, anarchists often find themselves collaborating with numerous other social movements, bringing along their values, ideas and tactics.


"Black Flags and Social Movements is a fundamental and insightful contribution to the political sociology of anarchist movements. Dana Williams uses sociological theories and methods to investigate the nature and location of anarchist social movements since the 19th century. This is a valuable contribution to our understanding of the persistence and evolution of radical egalitarianism, a recurring social movement that comes forth again and again in periods of world history in which inequalities have expanded beyond whatever societal functions they may have."

Christopher Chase-Dunn

"Challenging myths of violence, and jokes about disorganization, Williams carefully maps the organizations, struggles and activists within international anarchist movements. Few have attempted to analyze anarchist movements in any systematic fashion but Williams offers activists and scholars a map of contemporary anarchism, and uses social movement theory to understand its dynamics. Combining movement data with social movement theory, this is a ground-breaking analysis of anarchist movements."

Lesley Wood


Preface: Where Does Anarchy Begin?
Part I: Movement Overview
1. Introduction to Social Movements: Anarchism as a Unique Example
2. Anarchists as Individuals: A Micro-Structural Analysis
3. Anarchists of the World, Unite! A Meso-Structural Analysis
Part II: Theoretical Interpretation
4. The Significance of Social Movement Theory to Anarchism
5. Anti-State Political Opportunities
6. Anarchism as a "New Social Movement"?
7. Social Capital in Anarchist Movements
Part III: Interaction
8. Radical Isomorphism and the Anti-Authoritarian Diffusion of Leaderless Organizations
9. Conclusion: Revisiting the Epistemology of Anarchist Movements
Appendix A: Sources of knowledge and error


Dana M. Williams is an Associate Professor of Sociology at California State University, Chico

Newsletter Sign Up

Manchester University Press

Your cart is empty.

Select your shipping destination to estimate postage costs

(Based on standard shipping costs)

Final cost calculated on checkout
Promotional codes can be added on Checkout