query: social capital and community development
colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
colist at comm-org.utoledo.edu
Tue Jun 24 19:42:15 CDT 2003
[ed: Peter offers some initial thoughts on the discussion and
promises more. Below that, Fran offers some thoughts.]
From: "Dr. Peter Cox" <peter.cox at chester.ac.uk>
Just to add my voice. I've been working on Social Movements and
various forms of community building for a while now and think I
ought to try and formalise a whole set of ideas about the debate
that are floating in the air at the moment
I'll try and get something written for the listings very soon
specifically on SMs and CO. The problem with any study of social
movements is that there is no agreement as to what a social
movement is, and huge divergence between the various uses of
the word, particularly between the way it has been used in the US
and in the way the subject has been approached in Europe.
Academically, and as a way of clearing the ground, the work by
Mario Diani and Donatella Della Porta is a very clear starting point
that summarises the debate as it stands. I'm going to try and get
something written up on this as a matter of extreme urgency in the
next fortnight, if you can wait that long.
Dr. Peter Cox
Programme Leader in Community Studies
Department of Social and Communication Studies
From: "Francis Tobin" <fxtobin at earthlink.net>
Interesting discussion, and one which is close to my heart. Doug
Hess wants to clearly define and counterpose "organizing" and
"social movements", suggests that organizing is not social
movement work, and implies that what he considers "movement"
activity comes from a few "activists" calling for a change that
catches on. Is there a living wage or an anti-sweatshop
movement? Is there a housing movement? There _was_ a labor
movement, would you define it as one today? Is immigrant
organizing also community organizing?
Considering CO and social movement work as entirely
dichotomous activities strikes me as both counterproductive (as
suggested by Robert Fischer and those that complain CO adds up
to less than the sum of its parts) and counter-historical for a
number of reasons.
As Randy and others have noted, organizing (including community
organizing) has been intertwined with many social movements.
Developing a locally-based network of people and institutions
capable of addressing a range of issues defined by the members
(i.e. CO) built much of the base for the civil rights movement, and
continued to shape, carry out and sustain the movement's work and
demands. This is more than merely creating structures and
developing leaders that are then subsumed in distinct and separate
movement activities, but an active engagement in the movement,
even if many movement activists were not also engaged in the CO.
Rob Kleidman notes a dismissive attitude towards what is
considered movement work by some in organizing circles. This is
counterproductive. The Director of a prominent local funder told a
small but effective membership-based community organization I
volunteer with: "you have to decide if you're about organizing or
about social justice." This assumption that CO and justice work are
such different animals assumes that: 1) a community organization
cannot legitimately join a larger social movement, even if it sees
that its community's fate is linked to that movement's goals, and 2)
that "movement issues" (civil rights, worker rights or women's rights
or "free trade", war, etc.) are not community issues ("what's
invading other countries got to do with me?") These are
definitional (jurisdictional?) distinctions at odds with real life, in
which all these issues, and the ideological frameworks supporting
them (e.g. market/investor supremacy), play out where people live.
Randy notes of the global justice movement: > The critics charge >
activists with showing up for the demonstrations and then leaving >
when the action is over, without attempting to build local >
organizations that can take on global justice issues.
Ironically, it was incorporating an analysis of how global justice
issues (like neoliberal economic policy) impact our community, so
as to increase our capacity to organize locally around both local
and global economic issues, that partly led the funder to insist we
choose between organizing and justice.
I would generally concur with those suggesting that a linkage
between CO and social justice movements should be nurtured, not
shunned. Movement vision can help animate CO, energize our
members and can help us raise our sights. CO infrastructure helps
bring accountability and benchmarks of concrete steps towards the
goals. Power in pursuit of justice.
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