Anonymous Agencies, Backstreet Businesses, and Covert Collectives: Identifying Hidden Organizations in Society
Contemporary society is increasingly characterized by various hidden collectives that regularly escape our attention amid the focus on more transparent/visible organizations. Among these more hidden collectives are terrorist cells, undercover government agencies, crime cartels, shadow economies, anonymous support groups, online hacker organizations, stigmatized businesses, new religious groups, secret societies, and various other underground organizations that remain invisible to most. Yet, these organizations matter because of their growing size, substantial influence, and their potential to act without accountability. This seminar will help inform students about these hidden organizations based on research that goes beyond media portrayals. Specifically, we will examine these organizations in terms of how their members communicate and conceal their identity to various audiences. The goal here is not only to expose students to interdisciplinary research about hidden organizations and how they compare to one another, but also to help students think about issues of transparency and anonymity when it comes to collectives in our global digital society.