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  • Initiative for the Study of Power, Politics, and Organizing in the United States

  • Jemme Aldridge

    The Initiative for the Study of Power, Politics, and Organizing in the United States (ISPPO) seeks to inductively examine three main topics: the history and consequences of intersecting and compounding power asymmetry; the nature, purpose, and capacities of politics; and the framework, potentialities, and outcomes of political organizing. 

    Organized by Deva Woodly, Associate Professor of Politics, the ISPPO is composed of interdisciplinary clusters of faculty, graduate and undergraduate students who conduct research aimed at unearthing relevant questions, elucidating empirical realities, and suggesting imaginative, yet practicable solutions. Their research is anchored by the ways ordinary people communicate, experience inequality, build community, and practice resistance. 

    Power

    ISPPO characterizes the study of power by an interest in the ways that people imagine, interpret, and participate in what Hannah Arendt called “the world we share” — and the ways that they are prevented from doing so. This study begins with the lived experience of ordinary individuals in the context of dominative social and political regimes of white supremacy, patriarchy, and capitalism.

    Politics

    ISPPO approaches the study of politics by examining the ways ordinary people experience the political, particularly what they understand democracy to be and how they view their role in its achievement, maintenance, and horizons. Research in this cluster is grounded by inquiries into how people describe their experiences of politics, with special attention to whether and how they believe they can affect the institutions, practices, and relations they identify.

    Organizing

    Political organizing — distinct from activism and mobilization — is the process of meeting, engagement, education, and preparation for collective action that people undertake in the service of some public end. Researchers in the organizing cluster seek to investigate the meaning(s), processes, mechanisms, and outcomes of organizing as a distinct phenomenon. 

    In its inaugural 2020-2021 academic year, the theme of all ISPPO work is “The Politics of Care.” Watch Prof. Woodly’s June 2020 talk on the topic.

    Events

    During the 2020-2021 academic year, the ISPPO will host three recorded talks on power, politics, and organizing, featuring New School and external faculty. After each talk premieres, there will be a live Q&A for New School community members. 

    Power and the Politics of Care Panel, the ISPPO's first event, will take place on Friday, November 13, 4:00-6:00 p.m. ET. Register here.

    The first ISPPO conference will be held in fall 2021. The day-long interdisciplinary conference will feature panels on power, politics, and organizing, composed of faculty, graduate, and undergraduate students from The New School as well faculty from other institutions.

    Publications

    The ISPPO will produce an annual journal containing articles from graduate students and faculty members in each research cluster.

    Research cluster members will also each write a short essay on their topic of study for Public Seminar, the global intellectual commons at The New School for Social Research.  

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