community activism

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Hays, R. A. (2007). Community activists’ perceptions of citizenship roles in an urban community: A case study of attitudes that affect community engagement. Journal of Urban Affairs, 29(4), 401-424

 

Introduction

Allen Hays (Hays, 2007) looks at the connections and barriers between community activism (community-based organizations) and political participation in a small urban community to determine how they are viewed by participants. He is particularly interested in the contrast in opinions of those participants that view each other’s activities as separate.  There is no common ground or opportunity for either to join the other’s activism or political participation.  Hays employs a qualitative case study of community and political activists’ attitudes in a small urban community in northern Iowa.  The study is based on Robert Putnam’s theoretical model that suggests a strong connection between local civic and political engagement and Nina Eliasoph’s model that suggests there are barriers between local civic and political participation.  Hays (2007) tested these models through a series of in depth interviews with the above cross-section of a community’s population actively involved in civic and political activities.  He explores perceived boundaries between the two areas to better understand those boundaries might be overcome in similar cities.

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I am grateful for many experiences and environments in my life, including the ethnic influence of my father, that allowed me to experience different cultures and be open with others that were different from my bicultural identity.  This influence, in many ways, brought me here to a place where I am curious about everything, with a growing sensitivity that forces me to be aware of cultural erasures, fighting for the under- and unrepresented by any means at my disposal.  At this point, by any means implies learning tools that allow me to help people help themselves and learn skills that allow them to empower themselves more effectively.  Those tools include my research within the unintentional propaganda of media with sexist themes that influences interpersonal relationships and small groups of young Black American women and girls.

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Rappaport (1998) reinforces a previous written critique I had in another course.  Researchers in community psychology as well as humanistic psychology are not there for themselves or to dictate a narrative, whether it is finding a means to evolve through a series of community problems or not.  Rappaport explains it as being, “useful to people who have limited access to resources” where researchers serve as amplifiers to those voices.  While I have thought about this at length, I hadn’t considered it as a subject of academic research.  I have considered it as something that is necessary to do within the context of research to help people help themselves and empower them as individuals and groups in their own communities.

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I appreciate the idea that we are studying a practical, on-the-ground-activist-map and an academic and analytical one. The readings of Minkler’s (2006) case studies and Jackson & Volckens (1998) illustrate this very well.

While Jackson’s “reverberation theory of stress and racism” as it occurs in both the dominant political majority group and throughout the subgroup as their stress and “racism” is subjected to other less prevalent political minority groups. I question the idea of racism within the subclasses for the obvious reason that while a political majority has dominant control of society and its apparatuses, it is impossible for any subgroup to exhibit racism when they don’t have dominant control. That doesn’t stop the dominant group from defining these terms and claiming “reverse” racism that is evident in many online social network exchanges and news media reports.

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I know there are” ideal” companies to work for, not because I have worked for them (because I haven’t), but because very few friends have mentioned their work environments and their ideal supervisors and because I have read about them occasionally in the news pages.  But now that I have read Hacker and Robert’s analysis of when great managers fail to become great leaders.  In point of fact, I have rarely encountered what I consider a great manager, and when I have, they moved on shortly thereafter or I did.  I suspect that most managers, and frankly most front line employees, according to Hacker and Roberts’ description, don’t receive proper mentoring or training to be managers or leaders.  On that level, this book is rather enlightening and if all companies don’t need to read and apply this, most do.

I have worked in several industries for several companies, and I have no interest in working for any more companies any more than I have to.  I am more interested in working for myself teaching and learning from others and helping them individually and in small groups find their life’s passion in their local environment.  Given that this is a corporate-slanted text, I am surprised and impressed to see a whole chapter devoted to creating a life of meaning.  This concept has puzzled my family since they felt I should be doing one thing from the beginning of my working life to the end of my working life and I did not because I did not and still do not feel that I fit a mold or stereotype that they forced themselves into.  Retirement is a social construct designed to give people a false impression that they cannot do what they love and do something instead that they are obligated to do for family, for society, for security until they are too tired to continue doing it. When did this happen? In the not to distant past, each of our ancestors, wherever they were, worked the land, worked with their hands, worked with their brains to offer local wisdom to heal.  In a manner of speaking, a career was something that you simply were, rather than something you did temporarily. I have no intention of retiring. I don’t know what that would look like, and it certainly would literally bore me to death.

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