Introduction: Difficulties in Understanding Alinsky
At first, I would like to share some thoughts concerning the word tradition, before I go on to present my findings on Alinsky. Tradition could be defined as the passing on of knowledge and experience to others. Although Alinsky has written and reported basic findings on Community Organizing, I would not like to see him as a starting point of whatever tradition. This would deeply miss his intentions. Much of what Alinsky has said or written on Community Organizing was not new at his time. I do not want to say that Alinsky brought nothing new, however. But I would like to claim that Alinsky can only be understood adequately when one sees him as part of a chain within which something like tradition was passed on.
One can say that Alinsky was rooted very strongly in the Chicago School of Urban Sociology and that he learned a lot from his teachers. Furthermore, his work was subject and is subject to the interpretations of his co-workers , colleagues, trainees and students, who brought in their own views and lost others. This makes Alinsky part of a chain that we can define rather precisely. The Alinsky tradition can in no way be understood without references to his teachers and his trainees. Doing justice to the work of Saul D. Alinsky we must regard his teachers and famous sociologists Robert E. Park and Ernest W. Burgess. Also Oskar L. Lewis, the famous labor union leader, has to be mentioned. We also have to name Edward T. Chambers, one of Alinsky’s trainees and the present director of the Industrial Areas Foundation.
Occasionally one has to protect the teachers from their readers and trainees. This is not only true concerning Alinsky's German readers, but also his American trainees. Last but not least we have to protect Alinsky's teachers from Alinsky himself.
Weiterlesen … Three Alinskys