Mijs, Jonathan J.B. 2022. “Organizing a weak anti-prison movement? Surrogate representation and political pacification at a nonprofit prison reentry organization.” Race and Space (Research on Social Movements, Conflicts and Change)
The nonprofit sector has come to deliver the majority of state-funded social services in the US. Citizens depend on nonprofit organizations for these services, and nonprofits depend on government for financial support. Scholars have begun to ask important questions about the political and civic implications of this new organizational configuration. These questions have direct ramifications for the anti-prison movement given the explosive growth of nonprofit prison reentry organizations in recent years. To see how such organizations may impact political engagement and social movements, this chapter turns its focus on the intricate dynamics of client-staff interactions. Leveraging a yearlong ethnography of a government-funded prison reentry organization, I describe how such organizations can be politically active and at the same time contribute to their clients’ political pacification. Staff members engaged in political activities in surrogate representation of their clients. While staffers advocated on their behalf, clients learned to avoid politics and community life, accept injustices for what they are, and focus instead on individual rehabilitation. By closely studying what goes on within
a nonprofit service provider, I illustrate the nonprofit organization’s dual political role and its implications for social movements and political change.
Paret, Marcel. 2022. Fractured Militancy: Precarious Resistance in South Africa After Racial Inclusion
. Cornell University Press.
What are the legacies and ongoing realities of racial capitalism in the post-civil rights, post-apartheid era? What are the causes and consequences of Black protest, after formal racial inclusion, and how do precarious layers of the working-class forge resistance?
Drawing on extensive ethnographic fieldwork and interviews with activists, Fractured Militancy
tells the story of post-apartheid South Africa from the perspective of four low-income Black neighborhoods in and around Johannesburg – along the way, offering parallels and contrasts to the United States. It will be of interest to scholars and students of race, immigration, social movements, development and the political dimensions of capitalism.
Marcel Paret traces rising protests back to the process of democratization and racial inclusion, which took the form of an elite-driven “passive revolution” from above. This process dangled the possibility of change but preserved racial inequality and economic insecurity, prompting residents to use militant protests to express their deep sense of betrayal and to demand recognition and community development. Underscoring remarkable parallels to Black Lives Matter in the United States, this account attests to an ongoing struggle for Black liberation in the wake of formal racial inclusion.
Rather than unified resistance, however, class struggles within the process of racial inclusion produced a fractured militancy. Revealing the complicated truth behind the celebrated “success” of South African democratization, Paret uncovers a society divided by wealth, urban geography, nationality, employment, and political views. Fractured Militancy
warns of the threat that capitalism and elite class struggles present to social movements and racial justice everywhere.
Levine, Rhonda F. 2019. When Race Race Meets Class: African Americans Coming of Age in a Small City. Routledge.
A rare, 15-year ethnography, this book follows the lives of individual, low-income African American youth from the beginning of high school into their early adult years. Levine shows how their interaction and experience with multiple institutions (family, school, community) and individuals (parents, friends, teachers, coaches, strangers) shape their hopes, fears, aspirations, and worldviews. The intersectionality of their social identities—how race, class, and gender come together to influence how they come to think about who they are—influences many behaviors that directly contradict their stated aspirations. Affected, too, by limited access to resources, these youths often take a path profoundly different from their stated values and life goals. Levine explores the volatility and constraints underlying their decision-making and behaviors. The book reveals the critical junctures and turning points shaping life trajectories, challenging many long-held assumptions about the persistence of racial inequality by offering new insights on the educational and occupational barriers facing young African Americans.