Constructing Solidarities for a Humane Urbanism

Foregrounding Race, Ideology, and Coalition

Neighborhood-based urban organizing in the U.S. has been Alinskyian in its model for decades now. Groups organize for incremental changes, engage in bargaining around winnable issues, and avoid issues of race and ideology in any explicit fashion. What structural factors in the U.S. context led to the rise of Alinskyian organizing and what are the critiques of such a model? More importantly, in the face of gentrification, deindustrialization, and financialization, what are the limitations of such an organizing model? 
As Marc Doussard, professor of urban planning at UIUC, argues in his talk, contemporary organizing models in the U.S. are going through several critical changes. Organizers are foregrounding race and ideology in their messaging and outreach. Organizations are putting more resources into supporting race-conscious base building. Organizations are using ideological umbrellas to form coalitions across previous divides. In order to build power and take on larger issues, organizers are bridging segregated geographies. The importance of foregrounding race and ideology in order to build solidarity and form broader struggles is immense and clearly visible, but it also cannot be overstated. What are its limitations? What are the multiple pathways such organizing could take? In this module, you will get to reflect on the changing dynamics of neighborhood-based organizing in the U.S. 

Reading Suggestions

Doussard, M., & Lesniewski, J. (2017). Fortune favors the organized: How Chicago activists won equity goals under austerity. Journal of Urban Affairs, 1-17.

Lesniewski, J., & Doussard, M. (2017). Crossing Boundaries, Building Power: Chicago Organizers Embrace Race, Ideology, and Coalition. Social Service Review91(4), 585-620.

Doussard, M. (2013). Degraded work: The struggle at the bottom of the labor market (p. 275). Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.

Fisher, R., & Shragge, E. (2000). Challenging community organizing: Facing the 21st century. Journal of Community Practice8(3), 1-19.

Doussard, M. (2016). Organizing The Ordinary City: How Labor Reform Strategies Travel to the US Heartland. International Journal of Urban and Regional Research40(5), 918-935.

Gray, M., & DeFilippis, J. (2015). Learning from Las Vegas: Unions and post-industrial urbanisation. Urban Studies52(9), 1683–1701. Retrieved from

Beaumont, Justin & Miller, Byron A. & Nicholls, Walter.  (2013).  Spaces of contention: spatialities and social movements.  Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate.

Peck, J., & Theodore, N. (2012). Politicizing Contingent Work: Countering Neoliberal Labor Market Regulation... from the Bottom Up? South Atlantic Quarterly111(4), 741–761.

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