Anonymous Agencies, Backstreet Businesses, and Covert Collectives: Rethinking Organizations in the 21st Century
Craig R. Scott
Palo Alto, CA: Stanford University Press, 2013
Many organizations and their members devote extensive resources to promoting themselves and being known to others. However, not all organizations want or need their identity to be recognized, and not all organizational members want to have their membership or affiliation known by at least certain audiences. As we consider secret societies, anonymous support programs, hate groups, terrorist cells, covert military units, organized crime, gangs, parts of the underground economy, front organizations, stigmatized businesses, and even certain hidden enterprises tucked away in quiet office parks, we have to question what we think we know about the identity goals of organizations and their members.
Craig Scott's book, Anonymous Agencies, Backstreet Businesses, and Covert Collectives, offers a framework for thinking about how a wide range of organizations and their members communicate their identity to relevant audiences. Considering the degree to which organizations strategically make themselves visible, the extent to which members express their identification with the organization, and whether the relevant audience is more mass/public or local, we can describe various “regions” in which these collectives reside—ranging from transparent and shaded to more shadowed and dark. Importantly, organizations operating in these spaces differ in how they and their members communicate identity to others. Taking a closer look at groups like EarthFirst!, the Church of Scientology, Alcoholics Anonymous, the KKK, Skull and Bones, U.S. special mission units, men's bathhouses, and various terrorist organizations, this book draws attention to shaded, shadowed, and dark collectives as important organizations in the contemporary landscape.
"Drawing on his life-long interest in opaque organizations," Brigham Young University's Paul Godfrey notes, "Craig Scott combines the best of academic research and engaging writing to provide a rich, thoughtful, and thought-provoking examination of 'hidden' organizations. His topic is both timely and timeless, as backstreet businesses promise to become increasingly important in our world." Tracy Russo of the University of Kansas concludes that "Scott's engaging examination of hidden organizations makes a vivid argument that established ideas about organizations and their public communication do not apply uniformly. This is an important contribution demonstrating to organizational communication students and researchers that there's more to the organizational landscape than meets the eye."
Craig R. Scott is Professor in the Department of Communication at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey. His research examines anonymity and identification in organizations and related communication contexts. More specifically, he is interested in hidden organizations, organizational communication, communication technologies in the workplace, issues of work-related identification, anonymous communication, and communication theory. Scott is the past director of the Ph.D. program in Communication at Rutgers, a member of the advisory board for Rutgers's Communication and Interaction Lab, and an affiliate with Rutgers's Center for Media Studies.