Frances Fox Piven

CUNY Graduate Center, Political Science Department Faculty


is an internationally renowned social scientist, scholar, and activist whose commitments to poor and working people, and to the democratic cause have never wavered. Piven’s professional accomplishments in the world of academia place her among the ranks of the most important social scientists of the last century. It is not only Professor Piven’s academic work that marks her career for distinction. Rather, it is the unique and exemplary ways that she has bridged the worlds of academia and social activism to advance humanizing social policy reform that sets her apart. Her groundbreaking work with Richard A. Cloward on the functions of social welfare and poor relief (Regulating the Poor, 1971) received front page coverage in the New York Times Book Review and ignited a scholarly debate that reshaped the field of social welfare policy. Piven is the author or co-author of more than 200 articles published in academic journals, books, popular publications and journals of opinion since 1965, some of which have been republished up to a dozen times. Her scholarship is noted for its boldness and its analytical power and clarity. It relies on historical interpretation, and in its totality, advances sophisticated theories of power from below.

Most recently, she was the recipient of the Elliott-Black Award from the American Ethical Union, given in tribute for her “life-long commitment to create a society of peace and justice;” the Labor Communicator of the Year Award from the New York Metropolitan Labor Communications Council; the Hon. Shirley Chisholm Lights of Freedom Award from Community Voices Heard, given in recognition of her “leadership toward social and economic justice;” the Elizabeth Gurley Flynn Award from the Brooklyn College Labor Education Center; and the Hope Shapiro Bread and Roses Award from New Jersey Peace Action, in honor of her “commitment to peace and social justice” and her “tireless work to protect and expand voter rights.” In 2014, she received the prestigious Puffin Prize for Creative Citizenship from the Puffin and Nation Institutes.

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