Appropriation and infringement of an institutional norm.

The case of non-voting in the French Anarchist Federation
By Simon Luck

Throughout history, the refusal to participate in political elections has become a basic rule of the anarchist movement. It is now part of its identity and it is therefore a core principle of the French Anarchist Federation. This article intends to study the organization as an institution by focusing on how activists’ roles are learned and enacted. It shows that non-voting is considered as a part of the role of every member in the institution, and that failing to play it correctly exposes the individual to strong disapproval from the group. But this does not mean that it is impossible to infringe the rule, although deviance tends to remain hidden most of the time. Only in exceptional circumstances can the general rule be challenged, but in order to be heard, those who challenge it can only claim to do so on account of the institution’s goals and in very specific conditions, which somehow weakens their undertaking.


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