Affinity groups

In mass civil disobedience actions, experience of the past has proved that we need fixed affinity groups to stay together and look after each other. That is how Code Rood will work this year again. For this reason: look for three to seven other people with whom you will join together to form an affinity group for the action.

What is an affinity group?

An affinity group is an association of 4 to 12 people who trust each other and take part in direct action together. This group size makes it possible for everyone to have enough time to talk but doesn’t make decision-making too slow. Affinity groups have two main functions:

  1. They are the best way of protecting the individual at a demonstration, direct action or similar event. Affinity groups are there to look out for each other’s worries and needs. In the affinity group you look after each other, discuss how far you want to go, how you feel and what you would like to do. You usually try to go back to the camp together.
  2. Affinity groups are an important part of autonomous organization. On the one hand they let large groups function more effectively, for example when decision-making structures are built around a delegate system (spokescouncil). They also provide participants with a good opportunity not just to follow on, but to contribute to the direct action with their own ideas and plans.

Buddies

Within the affinity group, you subdivide in smaller units, called buddies: 2 people (a tandem) or 3 people (a tridem) who will stay together under all circumstances. For example, if you are a group of five, then you can split in one buddy-team of 2 and a buddy-team of 3. With buddy pairs in mind, it is recommended to form an affinity group of an even number.

If something happens to one of you – injury, detention etc. – that person’s buddy/buddies can support this person. The others in the affinity group can decide whether to stay behind as well or go on with the action. When you have reached the blockage points, you can reflect again and decide together: Who stays here? Who wants to go elsewhere? Who want to go back? What is important is that no one should ever be on their own!

Whom do you form an affinity group with?

Often affinity groups are composed of people with similar action experience. But this is not necessary. It is much more important that you share similar ideas about the action: How far are you prepared to go? How long do you want to stay? How do you behave towards others, e.g. the police?

The better you know each other as a group, the easier it will be to take decisions and the more fun you will have. Therefore, you should take time to get to know each other before the action starts, and discuss possible scenarios!

You can get to know people with whom you can form an affinity group in various ways. If you already know people that you can mobilize, it may be nice because you already know each other! But if not, there are plenty of other options. You could meet people who want to partake in the action during an action training for example. But also at the camp there will still be moments reserved for affinity group formation!

See also this check list!