Strategies for Community Empowerment Direct-action and Transformative Approaches to Social Change Practice

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This is a text for graduate and undergraduate social work students, as well as practitioners of community organization and social change practice in the United States. Three distinct social change approaches are represented: traditional, direct action, and transformative. The book provides a state-of-the-art assessment of social change practice and closes with a series of decision rules for students and practitioners who wish to match their organizing goals with strategies in a variety of geographic or culturally diverse settings. An overview of the principal training centers is provided for readers interested in organizing and training opportunities in almost any region of the country. The book emphasizes the advantages and disadvantages of each of the described strategies, presents opportunities for synthesis among approaches, and contains a critical assessment of the theory, concepts and skills required to undertake each of the approaches. Case illustrations and composite scenarios are used to make practical applications easy, and classroom and field exercises and assignments are suggested at the end of each chapter. The information for the book was drawn from a cross-disciplinary literature review which covers selected historical, philosophical and political perspectives, as well as from 150 interviews with leading community organizers in 24 cities, and a two-year intensive field study of 15 community organizing and social change training organizations.


"The book breaks new ground in organizing literature by linking theory, practice, critique, and a call for practitioners to be conscious of the trade-offs they make in employing one model rather than others. Hanna and Robinson both inspire and seriously challenge organizers to confront the pragmatic turfism and intellectual isolation that prevents any one approach from reaching the goal of social transformation. This book is food for both thought and action, particularly as it suggests the possibility that synthesizing direct action and transformative social change concepts and methodologies might move organizing practice closer in reality to its ideological claims of building a more just society." -- Ellen Ryan, MN Rural Organizing Project

"This book is a must for all community organizers, social workers, and for those who hope to be of intelligent help to the poor and oppressed. Clear and concise, it is written in a language which the average person working with people can understand. . . It is the first book I have seen which can be useful in the classroom and for people organizing in the streets." - Msgr. John J. Egan

"Their analysis is sufficiently sophisticated to be valuable and provocative for experienced organizers and seasoned social analysts, yet it also is presented in a clear, readable format that will be accessible to social work students and new practitioners. . . . Macro practice faculty should consider it highly as a text for courses in community organizing and social change. Both veterans and newcomers will benefit from a close reading, for the authors have made a valuable contribution to the praxis of social change." -- Lee Staples in Journal of Community Practice

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