The shrinking power of unions is often attributed to the rise of globalization. Frances Fox Piven argues, however, that global markets for goods and services have opened up new opportunities for expanding labor power. The problem is that unions have been unable to capitalize on new opportunities because they remain wedded to strategies that were partially successful in the past but have lost their traction in the 21st Century.
Piven gave a presentation followed by a moderated discussion with Professor Joe Soss.
Frances Fox Piven is a distinguished professor of sociology and political science at the City University of New York (CUNY) Graduate Center. Her scholarship and activism have centered on social movements, electoral politics, and welfare policy. She received a B.A. in city planning from the University of Chicago, and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. She has taught in the Columbia University School of Social Work and at Boston University, and has been on the faculty of the Graduate Center since 1982.
Piven’s Regulating the Poor (1972), co-authored with Richard Cloward, is a landmark historical and theoretical analysis of the role of welfare policy in the economic and political control of the poor and working class. Analyzing the historical roots of welfare, they argue that welfare rolls expand in response to mass disorder and electoral shifts. Piven has also co-authored Poor People’s Movements (1977), analyzing the dynamics of social insurgency, The New Class War (1982), The Mean Season (1987), The Breaking of the American Social Compact (1997), and Why Americans Don’t Vote(1998).
Professor Piven has served on the boards of the American Civil Liberties Union and the Democratic Socialists of America. She is currently the Editorial Board Chair of the New Press, is a Left Forum board member, and is outgoing President of the American Sociological Association. Her most recent book is Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America (2006).
Professor Joe Soss is the inaugural Cowles Chair for the Study of Public Service, a leading scholar on the reformed U.S. welfare system who has studied and written extensively on issues surrounding race in America. Soss is the author of Unwanted Claims:The Politics of Participation in the U.S. Welfare System (University of Michigan Press, 2000), co-editor of Race and the Politics of Welfare Reform (University of Michigan Press, 2003), co-editor of Remaking America: Democracy and Public Policy in an Age of Inequality (Russell Sage Foundation, 2007), and author or co-author of numerous scholarly articles.
Soss received his master's and doctoral degrees in political science from the University of Wisconsin-Madison where he previously taught and worked with the Institute for Research on Poverty. His research explores the politics of policy organization and public management, focusing on public policies that govern the life conditions, behaviors, and statuses of socially marginal groups.
Jacobs, Lawrence R..
How Labor Is (Part of) the Problem in Building an American Left.
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