The Outlaw Motorcycle Club's Rebellious Bureaucratic Structure
Outlaw motorcycle clubs first started after World War II as a rebellious outlet for “feelings of hostility and alienation” (Abadinsky, 2003, p. 5). The motorcycle “became a symbol of freedom from social responsibilities and restraints” (Abadinsky, 2003, p. 5). Many of these outlaw motorcycle clubs, such as the Hell’s Angels, quickly grew in number and gained popularity worldwide. As the outlaw motorcycle clubs grew, they developed a bureaucratic structure. This bureaucratic structure was very similar to the military since many club members were veterans. The outlaw motorcycle clubs’ bureaucratic structures included organizational charts, constitutions, and bylaws (Abadinsky, 2003).
Excellent Documentary on the Outlaws
It is interesting that a rebellious group of bikers would form and join an organization so similar to the ones they are rebelling against. Freedom from social responsibilities and restraints were given up by joining an outlaw motorcycle club. According to the Pagan Motorcycle Club Constitution, “all members must have a Harley Davidson 750-1200 CC” and “chapters must have one organized meeting per week” (Abadinsky, 2003, p. 14). How rebellious can the Pagan Motorcycle Club really be when they enforce a certain type of motorcycle, mandate members attend weekly meetings, and even tell members how to wear their “colors”?
It appears many of the ideals these outlaw motorcycle gangs are rebelling against are the same ideals they adopt in their organizational structure. Like any society, members will rebel against their normal environment, form their own rebellious group, and organize themselves into a formal structure. This formal structure causes members to rebel and form their own rebellious group, as a subset of the original rebellious group. History has shown this is very common theme and it is odd these rebels, such as the outlaw motorcycle clubs, end up forming organizational structures so similar to the very ones they claim to rebel against. It is even more perplexing these rebels, such as the outlaw motorcycle clubs, resort to organized crime as a means to support their rebellious cause. If their purpose is rebellion again social norms, why the need for constitutions, dress codes, bylaws, and organized crime?
Reference: Abadinksky, H. (2003). Organized crime (7th ed.). Belmont, CA: Thomson/Wadsworth Learning.