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Abstract

The story of the Contract Buyers League, unfinished though it is, presents a model of social change that combines familiar techniques in an unusual and extremely powerful way. Rather than contributing to only one phase of social evolution, the Gamaliel Foundation workers have pursued their project through several stages, directly participating in each one.

The workers began with a so-called "listening process," isolating the problem they would ""attack from the everyday impressions and experiences shared by the black people in whose ghetto neighborhood they lived.

Next, they immersed themselves in Nader-like consumer research, measuring the exploitation in dollars and cents, and identifying the exploiters by names and addresses, thereby transforming gut feelings into a documented pattern. At this point, they could have merely turned over their findings to the mass media where the impact would be dissipated when the intense but short lived attention of the press was played out. Instead, they organized a series of small meetings with the black homebuyers and showed to each the details behind his contract and how his neighbors were in a similar predicament.

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