Praxis for the Poor

Piven and Cloward and the Future of Social Science in Social Welfare

303 pages

5 illustrations

November, 2002

ISBN: 9780814798188



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Sanford F. Schram teaches social theory and social policy in the Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research at Bryn Mawr College where he also teaches research methods for undergraduate political science majors. He is the author of several books including Words of Welfare: The Poverty of Social Science and the Social Science of Poverty which won the Michael Harrington Award from the American Political Science Association and Welfare Discipline: Discourse, Governance, and Globalization.

All books by Sanford F. Schram

Praxis for the Poor puts the relationship of politics to scholarship front and center through an examination of the work of Frances Fox Piven and Richard Cloward. Piven and Cloward proved that social science could inform social-policy politics in ways that helped energize a movement. Praxis for the Poor offers a critical reflection on their work and builds upon it, demonstrating how a more politically-engaged scholarship can contribute to the struggle for social justice.

Necessary reading for political scientists, sociologists, social workers, social welfare activists, policy-makers, and anyone concerned with the plight of the poor and oppressed, Praxis for the Poor shows how social science can play a role in building a better future for social welfare.


  • “This wonderfully lucid, well developed volume should perhaps have been called Suggested Praxis for the Poor, since, instead of describing the current state of welfare, the author argues for a revamped praxis that would rescue our failing programs….Highly recommended.”

    Library Journal

  • "A significant achievement. This is a passionate critique that embodies the very politically-engaged scholarship for which it calls."

    —Nancy Campbell, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

  • "Praxis for the Poor offers a thought-provoking, even moving, challenge to progressive intellectuals. Engagingly written, it shines a bright light on issues of research, advocacy, and the doleful character of the country's system of social welfare."

    —Ira Katznelson, Columbia University

  • "Schram poses an important challenge for those who would like to restore to political science its sometime concern with power and inequality."

    American Politics Book Review

  • ” I recommend reading this book, and I applaud Schram’s many accomplishments while I share his long-term commitments.”

    American Journal of Sociology