Democracy in the Making: How Activist Groups Form by Kathleen M. Blee

By Kathleen M. Blee

With civic engagement normally understood to be at the decline and standard bases of neighborhood and technique of engagement more and more fractured, how do humans get entangled in collective civic motion? How do activist teams shape? What hampers the facility of those teams to invigorate political existence, and what allows it?

Kathleen Blee's groundbreaking new learn presents a provocative resolution: the early instances subject. via following grassroots teams from their very beginnings, Blee lines how their experience of danger shrinks through the years as teams improve a shared experience of who they're that forecloses techniques that have been as soon as open. even as, she charts the turning issues at which concepts re-open and teams turn into receptive to alter and reinvention.

Based on looking at greater than sixty grassroots teams in Pittsburgh for 3 years, Democracy within the Making is an extraordinary examine how traditional humans come jointly to alter society. It supplies a close-up examine the deliberations of activists at the left and correct as they paintings for animal rights, an finish to the drug alternate of their neighbourhood, same-sex marriage, worldwide peace, and extra. It exhibits how grassroots activism provides a substitute for civic disengagement and a discussion board for envisioning how the area may be remodeled. while, it files how activist teams develop into mired in dysfunctional and undemocratic styles that their individuals dislike, yet can't fix.

By interpreting the probabilities and pitfalls that face nascent activist enterprises, Blee finds how serious early offerings are to the luck of grassroots activism. important for students and activists alike, this sensible but profound learn indicates us, throughout the examples of either teams that flourish and those who flounder, how grassroots activism can greater reside as much as its democratic strength.

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Sample text

Before New Labour 21 Besides, although in the early 1980s Labour sought to widen access to the labour market for those who wished to enter it, this can be seen as simply extending the range of options available to those who would otherwise be receiving benefits, rather than suggesting that receiving benefits was in any way inferior to paid employment. Labour did not, at this time, see benefit receipt as being in any way demeaning or creating dependence. H. Marshall’s idea of social citizenship, access to social security benefits was seen as a sign of citizenship and of full status within society.

While the Labour Party, and indeed much of society as a whole, continued to subscribe to traditional ideas of family responsibilities based on the importance of the single (male) breadwinner, and while employment for the ‘breadwinner’ workforce could be maintained at levels high enough effectively to eliminate any longterm unemployment, there was no apparent reason to try to bring people outside that workforce into the labour market. Indeed, to have expanded the workforce by encouraging the participation of, for example, spouses or people with disabilities, might have imperilled the ability to maintain the levels of ‘full’ employment.

As mass and long-term economic inactivity had increased, growing numbers of (male) former workers had had to rely on means-tested rather than insurance-based benefits. This had two effects. First, there was little or no incentive for the unemployed to take part-time or other ‘non-standard’ work unless they could be sure that it would lift them entirely off benefits for a substantial period – otherwise, benefits would simply be withdrawn in direct proportion to the amount earned. In addition, the certainty of income which continuous receipt of full benefits provided would be disrupted, with potentially serious effects for those on low incomes.

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