“People Do Have Power”: Frances Fox Piven at 90 on Movements & Preserving Democratic Rights

As the United States heads into another recession and labor organizing is surging, we speak with leading sociologist and longtime social movement scholar Frances Fox Piven as she turns 90 years old. “We’re at another juncture: a bitter contest about democratic rights,” says Piven, who claims the U.S. has always been a “limited democracy.” Despite attacks on fundamental rights, Piven says, “people do have power” to organize and protect their rights, because “we live in a complex, integrated society where the activities of ordinary people really do matter.” Piven’s groundbreaking books include “Regulating the Poor” and “Poor People’s Movements: Why They Succeed, How They Fail” with her late husband and collaborator Richard Cloward.

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