Jun 03 2014

Why Political Organizers Need Class Awareness – Part 1

Republicans often accuse President Obama of waging a “class war.” Progressives often wish that were so. While many of us acknowledge class as a crucial factor in political analysis, we don’t place nearly enough emphasis on it in our political organizing.

Now, a new book by one of the nation’s leading progressive activists studying class tackles this issue head on. Betsy Leondar-Wright, program director at the Boston-based group Class Action, has written “Missing Class: Strengthening Social Movement Groups by Seeing Class Cultures.”

In an extensive and academically rigorous study spanning years, Leondar-Wright attended dozens of political group meetings, recorded them, interviewed hundreds of attendees in order to determine their class backgrounds, and then reviewed the recordings to see if patterns emerged.

Her findings on the extent to which people’s behavior depended on class were surprising. When Leondar-Wright first began gathering the data, she expected gender and race to be greater drivers of people’s behavior patterns. Instead, she said she found, “By far the most commonalities were among people of similar class, even if they were different by race, gender, age, generation and issue.”

GUEST: Betsy Leondar-Wright, program director at the Boston-based group Class Action, has written “Missing Class: Strengthening Social Movement Groups by Seeing Class Cultures.” Leondar-Wright’s earlier books include “Class Matters: Cross-Class Alliance Building for Middle Class Activists” and “The Color of Wealth: The Story Behind the U.S. Racial Wealth Divide

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