Biting the Hand That Feeds Them: Organizing Women on Welfare at the Grass Roots Level

By Jacqueline Pope | Go to book overview

3
Activists and Resources of a Movement

To organize welfare clients as well as the working poor was the idea of two social scientists, Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward. They developed theories suggesting that organizers and low-income people, together with community activists, could work to reduce social inequities. The problems encountered by welfare recipients and staff--due in part to the bureaucracy's size--were a perfect environment in which to test their ideas. In concert with CORE activist George Wiley, 1 Cloward and Piven fostered a national movement that had its roots in their article entitled "A Strategy to End Poverty" published in the Nation on May 2, 1966. In the article they discussed "the crisis theory of welfare reform." Specifically, they advanced the idea of organizing people who were eligible for welfare, as well as recipients, by demanding that welfare officials provide the maximum grants for clothing and other basic conveniences. Overloading the system was their strategy: Cloward and Piven reasoned that the welfare system would then collapse and be replaced with a national income plan. These grant requests were within the laws of social service departments around the country, and their hypothesis assumed

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Biting the Hand That Feeds Them: Organizing Women on Welfare at the Grass Roots Level
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • Notes ix
  • Acknowledgments xi
  • 1 - The Background 1
  • Notes 7
  • 2 - The Nature of America's and New York City's Welfare Systems 9
  • Notes 30
  • 3 - Activists and Resources of a Movement 33
  • Notes 63
  • 4 - Organized Recipients Begin Challenging Social Institutions 67
  • Notes 80
  • 5 - The Brooklyn Welfare Action Council: Forty-Six Welfare Rights Member Groups 83
  • Notes 126
  • 6 - Summary, Findings, and Recommendations 131
  • Notes 144
  • Bibliography 147
  • Index 157
  • About the Author 162
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