Frances Fox Pevin
2015 Bronislaw Malinowski Award Recipient
Dr. Piven is both a scholar and an activist who has had a long and productive career devoted to understanding and addressing problems of the human condition. Dr. Piven is both a sociologist and a political scientist, and one who has made major contributions to both disciplines and held offices in both fields. Few social scientists have compiled such a record in two disciplines. Her work has not escaped notice in anthropology circles, and she was invited to give the keynote address at the joint conference of the American Ethnological Society and the Society for Urban, National, and Transnational /Global Anthropology in 2011. Dr. Piven's career, spanning over 50 years, has focused on issues related to poverty, socialjustice, and political power. Her work has been influential in the development of social policy inthe US with regard to poverty programs and voter participation.
Dr. Piven's academic career is centered in the social sciences. Her academic credentials include a Masters Degree in city planning from the University of Chicago (1956) as well as a PhD in social science from the University of Chicago (1962). Starting in the late 1950s, she has held a variety of social science academic positions at Columbia University's Department of Public Law and Government (1958-60) and School of Social Work (1962-1972), Boston University's Department of Political Science (1972-1975; 1976-1982), and the City University of New York's Brooklyn College Department of Political Science (1975-1976). Since 1982 she has been a distinguished professor of Political Science at the City University of New York's Graduate School and University Center. Dr. Piven has also been a Visiting Professor/Scholar at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Vienna (1978, 1982), Hebrew University (1981), University of Iowa (1986), University of California Santa Barbara (1987), Arizona State University (1987), Pacific University (1987), University of Wisconsin (1991) and University of Oregon (2000). She was a Fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington (1979). Dr. Piven's work is widely recognized in social science academic circles. Her academic writing has included approximately 150 articles in journals and books published since 1965.
Dr. Piven's work grows out of her interest in the structure of power in American communities and the tools that are available to citizens to impact policy. Starting in the 1960s, this interest focused on the engagement of poor people in the political process. She and her late husband and colleague, Dr. Richard Cloward, were pioneers in social science research on poverty in the US. Piven and Cloward published an article in The Nation in 1966 describing a political strategy for addressing poverty based on their theory of interdependent power. The emerging National Welfare Rights Organization (NWRO), a national advocacy organization for welfare rights, adopted Piven and Cloward's interdependent power strategy in 1966, and both were active in the organization for many years. Their translation of their scholarly work into public policy led Drs. Piven and Cloward to found Human SERVE (Human Service Employees Registration and Voter Education), an electoral reform project in 1982. Human SERVE sought to increase voter participation among the poor by advocating for the removal of institutional barriers to voter registration at the state and local levels, making registration available in settings that are frequented by poor people- in welfare and unemployment offices and in private sector agencies that provide services to the poor. Drs. Piven and Cloward viewed Human SERVE's programs " ... as a series of experiments guided by theories of political change"