Magazine article Tikkun

Blessed Are the Organized

Magazine article Tikkun

Blessed Are the Organized

Article excerpt

BLESSED ARE THE ORGANIZED Jeffrey Stout Princeton University Press, 2010

PRINCETON RELIGION PROFESSOR JEFFREY STOUT provides a systematic study of grassroots organizing in America, touting its successes and acknowledging its limitations. He presents detailed accounts of the approaches to mass organizing in civil society combined with sophisticated and insightful analyses of what is being tried in the religious communities of American society. He recognizes economic elites' increasing power to shape political outcomes and points to a decline in the organizational strength of ordinary citizens (particularly as a result of the decline of the labor movement). He also describes the elite's increased ability to translate economic power into political power in the age of mass media, and the political exclusion of immigrants with permanent residency status and incarcerated people, who are an important element of America's poor. Yet Stout also acknowledges another source of the current weakness of democratic movements: the failure of our education system to move beyond abstract praise of democracy and teach people to get involved in public life through a union, civic association, or religious institution. …

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