Manuel A. Gomez


This article is divided into four sections. Section I offers a general description of Burning Man, including its organizers, social structure, and demographics. Section I also describes the Burning Man community and other features that distinguish Burning Man from other mass-gathering events. Section II describes the layers of internal and external social control found at Burning Man, and how they operate at the event. These layers of control include different forms of official law enforcement as well as the intra-community dispute resolution mechanisms employed by the Rangers. In Section III, the core of the article discusses the shortcomings of external deterrence mechanisms and the advantages of the intracommunity social control mechanisms that come from private ordering. Section III further compares Burning Man with other examples of private ordering, including carnivals. Section III concludes with a discussion of the factors that foster participant behavior and the social equilibrium of the Burning Man community. A conclusion is offered as Section IV.



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