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The Weight of the Poor, Cornel West interviews Frances Fox Piven - Guernica


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Unfortunately for Piven, the controversy surrounding her scholarship largely exists because her most zealous critics never fail to distort her findings. Peter Dreier of Dissent astutely points out that her studies on protests encourage not the use of violence as a measure of civil disobedience but rather “the combined power of voting and grassroots protest to bring about change.” In her attempts to empower the disenfranchised and understand the impetus behind social unrest, she has been blamed for seeking to completely uproot America’s democratic ideals while, in fact, she strives to make the best of America accessible to more people. Among other works, Piven’s notorious 1966 Nation article “The Weight of the Poor: A Strategy to End Poverty” and her 1972 book Regulating the Poor: The Functions of Public Welfare (co-written with Cloward) have been cited by conspiratorial demagogues as leading to Obama’s election to the presidency and the successful passage of his healthcare plan. More reasonably, her works reflect an activist attitude that forgoes passive resistance as a mode to bring about greater societal change.

So what's her main point? That poor people should vote more?

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