This article puts the political thought of Hannah Arendt into conversation with the organizing of the Industrial Areas Foundation, the oldest community organizing network in the United States. Arendt is often read as critical of politics that is instrumental in purpose, and the IAF is sometimes criticized for an overly instrumental approach to political life. In this article, however, I argue that Arendt illuminates what is particularly distinctive about the IAF and its place in American public life, namely its attention to politics as a space for disclosure and plurality. The encounter between the theorist and the organizing, however, reveals dissonance as well as resonance, revealing limitations in Arendt’s conception of the factors that motivate political life. I conclude by reflecting on some of the implications that the work of the IAF and the thought of Arendt raise for the practices of organizing and citizenship in America more broadly.


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pp. 86-109
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