Centre for Research in Communication and Culture

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Thomas Swann MA, PhD

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Researcher

Profile

I completed my PhD at the University of Leicester School of Management in September 2015. Prior to that, I gained an MA in Social and Political Philosophy from Radboud University Nijmegen in 2010 and an MA in Philosophy from the University of Glasgow in 2008.

My research has examined the connections between anarchism and organisational cybernetics, aiming to develop ‘anarchist cybernetics’ as a framework for understanding radical left social movement organisation. More broadly, this included looking at the nature of autonomy in anarchist organisation, the relationship between tactics, strategy and grand strategy and the ways in which communication can be understood in a radical left context. An important element of this work focused on the notion of alternative social media.

  • 2018 (forthcoming): 'Towards an anarchist cybernetics: Stafford Beer, self-organisation and radical social movements', ephemera, 18(4).
  • 2017 (with Emil Husted): 'Undermining Anarchy: Facebook's Influence on Anarchist Principles of Organization in Occupy Wall Street', The Information Society, 33 (4), 192-204.
  • 2016: ‘Book Review: A Very Short, Fairly Interesting and Reasonably Cheap Book About Knowledge Management by Joanne Roberts’, Management Learning.
  • 2015: ‘An Injury to All’, ephemera: theory & politics in organization. (review of John S. Alquist and Margaret Levi’s In the Interest of Others. Organizations and Social Activism)
  • 2014: ‘Review of Matthew Wilson, Rules Without Rulers. The Limits and Possibilities of Anarchism, Anarchist Studies, 23(1), 121-122.
  • 2014 (with Konstantin Stoborod): ‘Editorial: Did you hear the one about the anarchist manager?’, ephemera: theory & politics in organization, 14(4), 591-609.
  • 2014 (with Konstantin Stoborod, eds.): Management, Business, Anarchism. Special issue of ephemera: theory & politics in organization.
  • 2014: ‘A Marxist and an Anarchist Walk into the Occupy Movement: Internal and External Communication Practices of Radical Left Groups,’ in S. Price and R.M. Sanz Sabido (eds.) Contemporary Protest and the Legacy of Dissent. London: Rowman and Littlefield.
  • 2014: ‘Review of Christian Fuchs, Social Media. A Critical Introduction’, Anarchist Studies, 22(2), 119-120.
  • 2014: ‘Year 2.0’, Organization, 21(3), 423-427. (review of Paulo Gerbaudo’s Tweets and the Streets)
  • 2014: ‘The Spectre of Anarchism’, ephemera: theory & politics in organization, 13(3), 675-681. (review of David Eden’s Autonomy: Capitalism, Class and Politics)
  • 2010: ‘Are postanarchists right to call classical anarchisms ‘humanist’?’ in B. Franks and M. Wilson (eds.) Anarchism and moral philosophy. London: Palgrave.
  • 2010: ‘Can Franks’ practical anarchism avoid moral relativism?’, Anarchist Developments in Cultural Studies, 1(1), 199-215.

Thomas has recently begun working as a Leverhulme Early Career Fellow on a project titled 'Participatory constitutions: intercultural communication and political consensus'. The project will investigate the potential of horizontal, grassroots political engagement in what are typically considered hierarchical structures, with the focus on decentralisation in the context of nation states. Taking inspiration from Iceland's experience with crowdsourcing a new national constitution, the research, with special consideration of Scotland and Catalonia as potential new nation states, looks at how such processes can play a role in bridging gaps between demographic and cultural groups and how they can work towards radical and emancipatory ends. The project will put into practice experimental methods of participatory political philosophy to explore with participants what consensus can be reached around the core values and principles that motivate political practice and that are enshrined and scaled-up in large structures of political organisation.