Disadvantaged turn to disobedience in US
17 Jan, 2011 06:11
Caught in the eye of the financial crisis, underprivileged Americans have begun seeking ways to subvert system inequality by turning to the new tactic of economic disobedience.
Researchers and activists are documenting that wages in the US have been dropping while benefits and pensions are being cut. In the face of this, some have turned to a different form of protest that does not entail carrying placards or statement-making arrests. This form of resistance is happening in places hardly visible. In poor neighborhoods in New York City, some residents organize to raise a little money to buy subway cards offering unlimited rides, and swipe as many people in as they can to give them a free ride.For Ollie, one of the activists who organizes this form of disobedience, most importantly it is a response to an economic system that he sees as unfair."Taxes are cut for wealthy people and there are bailouts for banks and none of it reaches people in this neighborhood, and we think that is wrong," Ollie said. “I think fundamentally it is a neighborhood of immigrants and it is always been that way – a neighborhood that has never had much of a political voice. If they are not going to bail us out this is what we'll do to bail ourselves out,” he states.Lisa Dodson, an American sociologist, found this subversion of the system is happening across the country. However, she also discovered that the practice extends to middle-class businesses, where managers break rules to help their employees.“These were managers who felt that the people working for them – doing their jobs, being responsible – were still unable to take care of their family," Dodson, from Boston College, described. In her research, Dodson found grocery store managers sending bags of food home with workers, fast food managers padding paychecks with overtime wages. Though she said most of these managers were generally opposed to breaking rules, they felt their actions were justified by the circumstances. “Ignoring the fact that people who are working very hard for you are unable to feed their children…in the minds of some people at least, that has become a bigger wrong," Dodson added.