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

By Jacqueline Pope | Go to book overview

institutions had been in existence. Yet Cloward and Piven remain opposed to the fostering of dues-paying poor people's organizations.

Some individual members did volunteer their time during the 1968 electoral campaigns, and helped alert the community to office seekers with proven concern about recipients and poor people in general. In fact, WRO initiated a successful nonpartisan voter education/registration drive as well as helped many people to vote for the first time by sending client representatives to take them to polling places or provide babysitting services.

Voter education and registration was one additional factor in the recipients' process of taking control of their lives. From "low self-esteem as well as a sense of hopelessness"--observed a respondent--to organization, negotiation, and political awakening. WRO members had made visible progress. At this juncture I shall back up in order to examine in detail the clients' initial confrontations with the Welfare Department.


NOTES
1.
CORE refers to the Congress of Racial Equality. George Wiley later became the executive director of NWRO.
2.
Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, "A Strategy to End Poverty", Nation, May 2, 1966.
3.
Marcia Guttentag, "Group Cohesiveness: Ethnic Organization and Poverty", Journal of Social Issues 26, 2 (Spring 1970): 124-28. (I support the organizers' view that poor people can obtain a measure of power and change through collective action within a formal organization.)
4.
See Richard Cloward and Frances Fox Piven, Poor People's Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail ( New York: Vintage Books, 1979), p. 296.
5.
Norman Fainstein and Susan Fainstein, Urban Political Movements (Englewood Cliffs, N.J.: Prentice-Hall, 1974), p. 197: "Bureaucratic personnel are often unaccustomed to stressful situations."
6.
See Larry Jackson and William Johnson, Protest by the Poor: The Welfare Rights Movement in New York City ( New York: Rand Corporation, 1973).
7.
New York City Department of Welfare, Monthly Statistical Reports,

-63-

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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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