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Faith in Action

Religion, Race, and Democratic Organizing in America

Over the past fifteen years, associations throughout the U.S. have organized citizens around issues of equality and social justice, often through local churches. But in contrast to President Bush’s vision of faith-based activism, in which groups deliver social services to the needy, these associations do something greater. Drawing on institutions of faith, they reshape public policies that neglect the disadvantaged.

To find out how this faith-based form of community organizing succeeds, Richard L. Wood spent several years working with two local groups in Oakland, California—the faith-based Pacific Institute for Community Organization and the race-based Center for Third World Organizing. Comparing their activist techniques and achievements, Wood argues that the alternative cultures and strategies of these two groups give them radically different access to community ties and social capital.

Creative and insightful, Faith in Action shows how community activism and religious organizations can help build a more just and democratic future for all Americans.

288 pages | 9 halftones, 5 figures, 5 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2002

Morality and Society Series

Black Studies

Political Science: Urban Politics

Religion: American Religions

Sociology: Social Change, Social Movements, Political Sociology

Table of Contents

List of Tables and Figures
Introduction: Democratic Renewal in America
Part One: Dynamics of Contention in Faith-Based and Multiracial Organizing
1. Faith-Based Organizing in Action: The Local Organizing Committee at Saint Elizabeth Catholic Church
2. Higher Power: The Symbiosis of Religion and Politics
3. Race-Based Organizing in Action
4. Reweaving the Social Fabric: Social Capital and Political Power
Part Two: Thinking Culturally about Politics
5. The Political Culture of Faith-Based Organizing: Practices, Beliefs, Ethos
6. Cultural Dynamics and Political Action
7. The Limitations of Religious Culture: Moralistic and Therapeutic Faith
8. Making Democracy Work in America
Appendix 1: Organizations Sponsoring Multiracial Organizing and Faith-Based Organizing
Appendix 2: History and Development of PICO


Society for the Study of Social Problems: C. Wright Mills Award

ASA Collective Behavior and Social Movements Section: Charles Tilly Award for Best Book

ASA Sociology of Religion Section: Sociology of Religion Distinguished Book Award

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