Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing

Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing

Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing

Roots to Power: A Manual for Grassroots Organizing


When ordinary people band together to gain more control over their life conditions, the first order of business is to organize in pursuit of collective action. This how-to manual presents strategies, tactics, methods, and techniques that community members can use to set their own goals, select issues, campaign for these issues, recruit members, develop leaders, hold effective meetings, conduct research, lobby politicians and legislators, and get the word out to the media.

The author brings more than three decades of experience to the task of explaining root principles for developing and exercising collective power; he moves effortlessly from such broad discussions into providing specific tips for effective organizing methods and techniques. Armed with the information in this book, any community can bring about social change through collective action.


Richard Cloward died in 2001. These comments are modestly
revised and updated from the introduction orignally written
by Cloward and Pivenfor the 1984 edition of this book

The publication of this clear and thoughtful book on community organizing strategy by an experienced organizer is an important event. Community organizing, like all organizing, is about the struggle for a measure of power by people who ordinarily have little power. Those struggles have not fared well in the past few decades, and power inequalities are widening. As we mobilize to reverse those trends, it is important to learn what we can from those whose lives have been devoted to redressing the grievances of people at the bottom. Lee Staples is such a person, a uniquely gifted organizer with the talent to explain just what it is that community organizers try to do.

In the contemporary world, the crucial criterion by which to evaluate community organizing strategies as power strategies is the extent to which decentralized organizing can influence the increasingly centralized constellations of economic and political power that delimit the conditions under which people live. It hardly needs saying that if people organize to demand jobs or to demand better working conditions or to reduce environmental hazards, they are organizing to influence institutional processes that are ultimately determined by national and multinational corporations, and by the policies of the federal government and the new multinational superstructures that regulate the global economy. And if they organize to protest foreign aggression, they are organizing to change the military policies of the national government and its international allies.

But if the decisions that shape our lives are national and international, community organizing is by definition and by necessity local. Ordinary . . .

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