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Cultural Dilemmas of Progressive PoliticsStyles of Engagement among Grassroots Activists$
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Stephen Hart

Print publication date: 2001

Print ISBN-13: 9780226318172

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: March 2013

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226318196.001.0001

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Stories and Practices of Community Organizing

Stories and Practices of Community Organizing

(p.82) Chapter 4 Stories and Practices of Community Organizing
Cultural Dilemmas of Progressive Politics
University of Chicago Press

In addition to articulating a religio-political language, faith-based community organizing has created other distinctive cultural forms. This chapter describes some of these, especially the stories and practices generated by this movement. First, it examines a recurrent form of story telling in which participants interpret their lives in the light of organizing principles. Second, it looks at one example of the unconventional, special-purpose “actions” that community organizations sometimes mount, studying the ways in which practical action and discourse combined to communicate the organization's political proposals and principles. Third, it considers a standardized dramaturgical form central to congregation-based community organizing: the large public meeting. And finally, the chapter assesses how even the most routine activities, such as business meetings, serve not only to accomplish practical purposes but also to enact and reinforce organizing values. Such practices and stories give faith-based organizing a much richer cultural life than it would have were it solely a system of ideas.

Keywords:   community organizing, cultural form, cultural movement, congregation-based community organizing, public meeting, organizing principle

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