Autonomous centers ( AZ) are self-governing and independent cultural and socio- political institutions. They thus differ by state and municipal institutions and their funding. Autonomous centers are found mainly in squats. Nationally known Autonomous centers are the Köpi and Mehringhof in Berlin as well as the Rote Flora in Hamburg. International Autonomous centers are referred to as social centers.
As the operator of the idea of self-directed and self-managed life are connected without authority, they often refuse to co-operation with public institutions such as the building control authority. However, the differences in ownership are large, ranging from autonomous centers in occupied houses to urban co-financed autonomous youth centers. An autonomous center is not hierarchically managed, but organized on a democratic basis and collectively.
In Autonomous centers find events such as concerts and lectures, which usually originate from the spectrum politically left-wing. Occasionally, they also serve as a meeting place for left-wing groups and provide young people and adults alternatives in leisure activities, such as sports activities. Frequently located in the autonomous centers infoshops the leftist and anti-fascist political scene.
In the eighties and nineties of the 20th century served Autonomous centers of the radical leftist movement, especially as communication centers. After the millennium, their utility changed to the effect of the spread of the Internet that money with them is taken for political events and the myth surrounding it is an important factor to motivate the autonomous movement.