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How Civic Action WorksFighting for Housing in Los Angeles$
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Paul Lichterman

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780691177519

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: May 2021

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691177519.001.0001

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Solving Problems by Protecting an Identity

Solving Problems by Protecting an Identity

(p.90) 4 Solving Problems by Protecting an Identity
How Civic Action Works

Paul Lichterman

Princeton University Press

This chapter follows the action in scenes from the earlier phase of the Tenants of South Los Angeles's antidisplacement campaign. When advocates style themselves as a community of identity, they give themselves a distinctive dilemma. Their style of action, with its emphasis on a distinct, subordinated community, entangles them with different social realities from the ones immediately salient to a community of interest. The central dilemma for a community of identity is to balance strategies that are from the people most central to “the community” and those crafted by advocates for the community. The community of identity is a cultural reality of its own, with its own influence on how activists make claims and build relationships around claims. It generates distinct ways of talking and feeling. The chapter ends with scenes from Los Angeles People's Organization, a predominantly African American group that pursued housing and civil rights issues in the same style of interaction.

Keywords:   Tenants of South Los Angeles, antidisplacement campaign, social advocates, community of identity, social realities, cultural reality, activists, Los Angeles People's Organization, housing rights, civil rights

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