Challenging Authority: How Ordinary People Change America

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Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2006 - History - 195 pages
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What do the American Revolution, the abolitionist movement, the labor movement, and the Vietnam antiwar movement have in common? These are examples of the profound moments in American history when ordinary Americans collectively and persuasively told the government enough. Challenging Authority argues that ordinary people exercise extraordinary political courage and power in American politics when, frustrated by politics as usual, they rise up in anger and hope, and defy the authorities and the status quo rules that ordinarily govern their daily lives. By doing so, they disrupt the workings of important institutions and become a force in American politics.
Drawing on critical episodes in American history, Frances Fox Piven shows that it is in fact precisely at those seismic moments when people act outside of self-restricting political norms that they become empowered to their full democratic potential.
 

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Contents

Introduction
1
The Nature of Disruptive Power
19
The Mob and the State Disruptive Power and the Construction of American Electoral Representative Arrangements
37
Dissensus Politics or the Interaction of Disruptive Challenges with Electoral Politics The Case of the Abolitionist Movement
55
Movements and Reform in the American Twentieth Century
81
The TimesInBetween
109
Epilogue
139
Notes
147
Index
185
About the Author
195
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Page 185 - And we define: the democratic method is that institutional arrangement for arriving at political decisions in which individuals acquire the power to decide by means of a competitive struggle for the people's vote.
Page 187 - A little patience, and we shall see the reign of witches pass over, their spells dissolved, and the people recovering their true sight, restoring their Government to its true principles.

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About the author (2006)

Frances Fox Piven is Distinguished Professor of Political Science and Sociology at the Graduate School at the City University of New York and past president of the American Sociological Association. She is the author of several books, including The War at Home: The Domestic Costs of Bush's Militarism (2004) and Why Americans Still Don't Vote: And Why Politicians Want It That Way (2000).

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