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After America's Midlife Crisis (Boston Review Books)

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After America's Midlife Crisis (Boston Review Books) Cover

ISBN13: 9780262013604
ISBN10: 0262013606
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: None
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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

Michael Gecan, a longtime community organizer, offers in this book a disturbing conclusion: the kinds of problems that began to afflict large cities in the 1970s have now spread to the suburbs and beyond. The institutional cornerstones of American life are on an extended decline. No longer young, no longer without limitations or constraints, the country is facing a midlife crisis.Drawing on personal experiences and the stories of communities in Illinois, New York, and other areas, Gecan draws a vivid picture of civic, political, and religious institutions in trouble, from suburban budget crises to failing public schools. Gecan shows that the loss of social capital has followed closely upon institutional failure. He looks in particular at the two main support systems of social mobility and economic progress for the majority of working poor Americans in the first half of the last century--the Roman Catholic school system and the American public high school. As these institutions that generated social progress have faded, those depending on social regression--prisons, jails, and detention centers--have thrived. Can we reverse the trends? Gecan offers hope and a direction forward. He calls on national and local leadership to shed old ways of thinking and face new realities, which include not only the substantial costs of change but also its considerable benefits. Only then will we enjoy the next rich phase of our local and national life.

Review:

"Using plain but deft language, longtime community organizer Gecan (Going Public: An Organizer's Guide to Citizen Action) diagnoses the range of problems threatening the country, community by community, as our institutions grow unreliable and corrupt: 'No longer young... no longer without apparent limitations or constraints, these places, like people, have developed ways of avoiding reality,' including (PR-supported) denial, gimmicks (buying soccer teams, leasing landmarks), blaming others (today, usually Hispanics and Muslims), and withdrawing ('White flight'). He also examines the potential for failure in the present administration's approach to the working poor, identifying on-the-ground conditions as a major blind spot for both of the cultural forces behind President Obama-elite academia, and the old-school Chicago political machine. Later sections explore the work of community organizers in Chicago, New York and elsewhere, 'experiments that have already transformed parts of cities and counties and regions,' and draw vivid conclusions for policy and politics in general. Exposing the crimes of exploitative politicians, real estate agents and the foreclosure industry, Gecan makes it clear that the fleecing of the American worker is a problem comparable in scope, ethics and injustice to American slavery." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Synopsis:

A longtime community organizer outlines a way to reverse the fifty-year decline in social mobility and economic progress.

Synopsis:

For several decades Michael Gecan has worked with groups that serve their communities when conservative get-tough rhetoric and endless liberal programs do not cut it.

Synopsis:

For several decades Michael Gecan has worked with groups that serve their communities when conservative get-tough rhetoric and endless liberal programs do not cut it.

A Chicagoan by birth and a survivor of the 1958 Our Lady of the Angels School fire that took the lives of 92 children and three nuns, Gecan brings his deep knowledge of that city's blighted neighborhoods, bloated bureaucracy, and venal political machine to bear on a thoroughgoing and nationwide critique. He paints a vivid picture of civic, political, and religious institutions in decline, from suburban budget crises to failing public schools: a national mid-life crisis.

Gecan reveals an urban landscape in which careerism, nepotism, and greed are the principal movers in policy, while the institutions that preserve and advance communities—schools, churches, affordable housing, recreational opportunities—have fallen prey to the indifference of pols and developers and the shortsightedness of technocrats.

But Gecan would not be a lifelong organizer if he did not see the possibility for change. With relational work—the heart of organizing—at the center of new efforts, he shows how local experiments can create vibrant institutions that truly serve their constituents. Most importantly, he calls on national and local leadership to shed old ways of thinking and face new realities.

About the Author

Michael Gecan, a veteran organizer who trained with Saul Alinsky, is an executive member of the Industrial Areas Foundation (IAF). He has worked in both Chicago and New York City and is the author of Going Public: An Organizer's Guide to Citizen Action.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780262013604
Author:
Gecan, Michael
Publisher:
MIT Press (MA)
Author:
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Author:
Chasman, Deb
Location:
Cambridge
Subject:
Public Policy - City Planning & Urban Dev.
Subject:
Social institutions -- United States.
Subject:
Education, Urban -- United States.
Subject:
Sociology - General
Subject:
Public Policy - Social Policy
Subject:
City Planning & Urban Development
Subject:
Politics - General
Copyright:
Series:
Boston Review Books After America's Midlife Crisis
Publication Date:
20090828
Binding:
HARDCOVER
Grade Level:
from 17
Language:
English
Pages:
144
Dimensions:
7 x 4.5 x 0.375 in

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Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Politics » Activism and Peace Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » City Specific
History and Social Science » Sociology » Urban Studies » General

After America's Midlife Crisis (Boston Review Books) Used Hardcover
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$2.95 In Stock
Product details 144 pages Mit Press - English 9780262013604 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "Using plain but deft language, longtime community organizer Gecan (Going Public: An Organizer's Guide to Citizen Action) diagnoses the range of problems threatening the country, community by community, as our institutions grow unreliable and corrupt: 'No longer young... no longer without apparent limitations or constraints, these places, like people, have developed ways of avoiding reality,' including (PR-supported) denial, gimmicks (buying soccer teams, leasing landmarks), blaming others (today, usually Hispanics and Muslims), and withdrawing ('White flight'). He also examines the potential for failure in the present administration's approach to the working poor, identifying on-the-ground conditions as a major blind spot for both of the cultural forces behind President Obama-elite academia, and the old-school Chicago political machine. Later sections explore the work of community organizers in Chicago, New York and elsewhere, 'experiments that have already transformed parts of cities and counties and regions,' and draw vivid conclusions for policy and politics in general. Exposing the crimes of exploitative politicians, real estate agents and the foreclosure industry, Gecan makes it clear that the fleecing of the American worker is a problem comparable in scope, ethics and injustice to American slavery." Publishers Weekly (Starred Review) (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Synopsis" by , A longtime community organizer outlines a way to reverse the fifty-year decline in social mobility and economic progress.
"Synopsis" by , For several decades Michael Gecan has worked with groups that serve their communities when conservative get-tough rhetoric and endless liberal programs do not cut it.
"Synopsis" by , For several decades Michael Gecan has worked with groups that serve their communities when conservative get-tough rhetoric and endless liberal programs do not cut it.

A Chicagoan by birth and a survivor of the 1958 Our Lady of the Angels School fire that took the lives of 92 children and three nuns, Gecan brings his deep knowledge of that city's blighted neighborhoods, bloated bureaucracy, and venal political machine to bear on a thoroughgoing and nationwide critique. He paints a vivid picture of civic, political, and religious institutions in decline, from suburban budget crises to failing public schools: a national mid-life crisis.

Gecan reveals an urban landscape in which careerism, nepotism, and greed are the principal movers in policy, while the institutions that preserve and advance communities—schools, churches, affordable housing, recreational opportunities—have fallen prey to the indifference of pols and developers and the shortsightedness of technocrats.

But Gecan would not be a lifelong organizer if he did not see the possibility for change. With relational work—the heart of organizing—at the center of new efforts, he shows how local experiments can create vibrant institutions that truly serve their constituents. Most importantly, he calls on national and local leadership to shed old ways of thinking and face new realities.
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