institutions had been in existence. Yet Cloward and Piven
remain opposed to the fostering of dues-paying poor people's
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
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.
CORE refers to the Congress of Racial Equality. George Wiley later
became the executive director of NWRO.
Richard Cloward and
Frances Fox Piven, "A Strategy to End Poverty", Nation, May 2, 1966.
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.)
See Richard Cloward and
Frances Fox Piven, Poor People's Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail ( New York: Vintage Books, 1979),
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."
See Larry Jackson and
William Johnson, Protest by the Poor: The
Welfare Rights Movement in New York City ( New York: Rand Corporation, 1973).
New York City Department of Welfare, Monthly Statistical Reports,