“Blessed are the Organized – Grassroots Democracy in America” by Jeffrey Stout
I just ran into this book, this morning, and so haven’t read it. However, the subject matter is of great interest to me, and from a few bits and pieces I skimmed, the book looks worth a read. Partly because I noticed that the author is aware of putative reform organizations getting co-opted. And also, because the author points to real-life, successful models of organizing (see quote, below).
The author starts out by categorizing 3 types of grassroots organizing. Then, from page 7,
In this book, I shall mainly be examining the 3rd kind. Broad based organizing differs from social movement organizing in that it does not restrict itself to a single issue and instead takes up different issues over time in response to concerns expressed by its citizens. It differs from community organizing insofar as it sometimes succeeds in building lasting coalitions that involve multiple communities. Social movements are inherently limited in focus and duration. Community organizations are inherently limited in geographical scope and have also often fizzled – or become corrupted by antidemocratic impulses – after a few local campaigns. Broad-based citizens’ groups are meant to transcend these limitations. This is why the longevity of the COPS organization in San Antonio is significant for our understanding of grassroots democracy today. It is also why the network in which Jeremiah and COPS participate has importance for an appraisal of democracy’s prospects at a time of worsening stratification. If grassroots demmocracy is going to address the most pressing issues now emeerging at the national and international levels, and sustain itself over time, broad-based organizing will have to be expanded and strengthened.
The book is rated 4.5 stars on amazon, but unfortunately the 3 reviews posted are all 2 line affairs. If you want to get a good idea of what’s in the book, you’ll have to read it. If you do, please post a diary on the subject, here (and a meaty review on amazon.)