WHY AMERICANS DON'T VOTE by Frances Fox & Richard A. Cloward Piven


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Another pessimistic sociological treatise by Piven (Political Science/CUNY) and Cloward (Social Work/Columbia), who have combined on four previous books (The New Class War, 1982, etc.) that basically see the forces that be in a constant fight to keep the working class down and out. The current volume takes their previous work one step further--intimating that our electoral process has been designed to ensure a low voter turnout, to the detriment of workers, blacks, and the poor. Piven's and Cloward's theory boils down to there being some sort of conspiracy afoot to involve the poor in electoral politics as a means of channeling them away from more dangerous and radical ""movement"" politics (which the authors feel would more greatly benefit the poor). This is a Catch-22 kind of theory, for its dialectic is such that whenever popular politics recognizes the grievances of a minority and incorporates them into establishment issues, the minority has somehow lost, rather than gained. The authors argue that, even with a supposed broad electorate, American workers still lag behind workers in European industrial nations in respect to social welfare. Piven and Cloward see nothing to smile about in the recent fractionated Democratic Party, which they see as smoothing the way for increasing business influence. Similarly, poor Southern whites are being duped, they argue, into joining forces with their wealthier counterparts simply to offset black electoral influence. Unconvincing.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1988
Publisher: Pantheon