Gramsci, Leaderfulness, and Black Lives Matter


    Eugene Nulman
    Birmingham City University
Cosmos Talk 

Eugene Nulman, Birmingham City University
Gramsci, Leaderfulness, and Black Lives Matter


Contemporary social movements and organisations have increasingly embraced the notion of ‘leaderfulness’. This development has the possibility of affecting the current struggles these movements face as well as the activist landscapes of the future. Due to its distinct contribution to developing an analysis of leadership, this paper seeks to position Gramsci’s intellectual work at the heart of understanding the ways in which these contemporary movement organisations are using organisational structures to address social objectives and the implications this has on the movement. Specifically, this paper examines the Black Lives Matter Global Network, which openly advocates for leaderfulness, through documentary content analysis and 22 interviews of activists across 18 local chapters. We find that the structures for promoting leaderfulness which Gramsci had advocated for were lacking and, we argue, this was the reason why the development leaderfulness was limited. The paper helps to shed light on the difficulties of social movement momentum and proposes a solution drawn from Gramsci’s work.