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The Politics of Identity
Solidarity Building among America's Working Poor
The Politics of Identity
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Erin E. O'Brien - Author
SUNY series in Public Policy
Price: $80.00 
Hardcover - 280 pages
Release Date: July 2008
ISBN10: N/A
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-7501-0

Quantity:  
Price: $30.95 
Paperback - 280 pages
Release Date: July 2009
ISBN10: N/A
ISBN13: 978-0-7914-7502-7

Quantity:  
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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

Makes the surprising claim that identity politics can facilitate rather than undermine worker solidarity.

Conventional wisdom believes that solidarity among the working poor is rare in the United States and identity politics shoulders a large portion of the blame. The Politics of Identity offers a fresh take on solidarity building and identity among America’s working poor by placing workers’ voices center stage through the use of fieldwork and in-depth interviews. The book provides the first empirical assessment of long-standing theoretical debates over the effect of identity politics for developing additional solidarities that is politically relevant, theoretically rich, and highly readable.

"…the author’s clarity, incisiveness and use of methodological rigor results in a book that makes an important contribution to our understanding of how America’s working poor perceive themselves, and the implications these perceptions could have for social action and policy." — Journal of Sociology and Social Welfare

“…The Politics of Identity … focuses on the author’s extensive research and fieldwork in the service industry, but the information learned can be easily applied to a number of organizing situations and other categories of workers.” — Labor Studies Journal

“O’Brien successfully cracks the long-held understanding that identity politics precludes worker solidarity.” — Journal of Politics

“Erin O’Brien’s The Politics of Identity pushes past the settled oppositions to show how a politics of identities can mobilize, rather than undermine, collective action by workers. Drawing upon vivid worker portraits from extensive fieldwork, the author details in highly readable prose how we need to think more creatively if workers are to contest the indignities of the low-wage economy unfolding before us. Here is a book that lays the groundwork for renewed hope and optimism in an era of worker discontent.” — Sanford F. Schram, author of Welfare Discipline: Discourse, Governance, and Globalization

Erin E. O’Brien is Assistant Professor of Political Science at the University of Massachusetts Boston.


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Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figure

Acknowledgments

PART I. IDENTITY AND SOLIDARITY: EXISTING PATTERNS AND NEW POSSIBILITIES

1. Introduction

2. Identity among the Working Poor: Possibilities in Familiar Patterns

PART I I. COALITIONAL WORKER SOLIDARITY: CONNECTING AS MEMBERS OF DISTINCT DEMOGRAPHIC GROUPS

3. “They’re a Lot Like Us”: Understanding Coalitional Solidarity, Developing It, and the Role of Associational Identity Politics

4. “Hey, It’s Not My Fault”: Barriers to Coalitional Solidarity and the Non-Role of Associational Identity Politics

PART III. COLLECTIVE SOLIDARITY: THE WORKING POOR CONNECTING ALONG A SHARED IDENTITY

5. “I Got Workers’ Backs”: Uncovering Collective Worker Solidarity, Developing It, and the Role of Associational Identity Politics

6. “Being a Worker Doesn’t Mean a Thing to Me”: The How and Why of Rejecting Collective Worker Solidarity

PART IV. IMPLICATIONS FOR POLICY CHANGE AND ACTIVISM

Introduction to Part Four

“It’s Time for Us to Really Do Something”: Key Points for Moving Everyday Feelings Surrounding Solidarity into Policy Change and Activism

7. “It Could Get Political”: Everyday Uses of Collective Solidarity and Identity Politics for Policy Change and Activism

8. “I Would Go toward the Goal They’re Trying to Reach”: Everyday Uses of Coalitional Solidarity and Identity Politics for Policy Change and Activism

9. Conclusion

Appendix A Glossary of Key Terms
Appendix B Sample’s Demographic Characteristics
Appendix C Interview Schedule
Appendix D Research Design and Methodology

Notes
Works Cited
Index



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