Building political agency and movement leadership: the grassroots organizing model of Asian Immigrant Women Advocates.

Chun, Jennifer Jihye.

Citizenship Studies 20, no. 3-4 (2016): 379-395.


Drawing upon a qualitative case study of Asian Immigrant Women Advocates (AIWA), which organizes Chinese immigrant women working in low-paid, precarious jobs, this study examines how one worker center contends with multiple dimensions of precarity to build political agency and movement leadership. By encouraging participation in collective trainings, promoting involvement in collective action campaigns, and creating organizational leadership roles, AIWA has developed a grassroots organizing model that transforms Asian immigrant women workers’ everyday lives from a pervasive state of social isolation and political withdrawal to an uplifted state of self-activity and collective change-making. Key outcomes generated by AIWA’s grassroots organizing model include enhanced self-confidence, expanded social networks, practical organizing skills, and expert-level knowledge. By showing how grassroots organizing strategies create alternative pathways for social and political engagement, this study challenges the dominance of professionally led worker centers that seek to dismantle but often perpetuate the exclusionary dynamics of liberal citizenship regimes.

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