The Development of Political Imagination in Public Housing
Posted: 9 Oct 2011
Date Written: October 8, 2011
Although welfare recipients undergo political learning from welfare bureaucracies, I disagree that this is where political development begins and ends. In this paper I argue that Chicago public housing policy has created a public sphere where low-income people develop political imagination through public-spirited conversation. Drawing from six months of ethnographic fieldwork and in-depth interviews, I find that, despite at times being denied access to the larger public sphere, public housing residents have found ways to effect change within their own smaller public spheres. While public housing resident political advocacy often goes on under the radar of the larger public eye, it is still very much happening in ways that are effective and significant. My argument takes Joe Soss’ work, as well as the work of others within the policy feedback literature, as a point of departure, and interrogates the way in which low-income people act politically in creative and poignant ways.
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