Home » Articles posted by Merrill Sovner

Author Archives: Merrill Sovner

Civil Society Workshop on October 11 with Leigh Graham

Join us Thursday, October 11, at 12:30 pm for a discussion with:

Leigh Graham, Assistant Professor of Public Management, John Jay College, on:

Race, Risk, and Resilience in Rockaway

The need to reconstruct the beach neighborhoods of the Rockaways, Queens, after Hurricane Sandy in 2012 brought a wide range of people and organizations together in a local participatory process. Professor Graham’s research shows how participation was affected by differences in race, economic status, and the unique set of regulations surrounding public housing.

Read more about Graham’s work here in Urban Affairs Review.: https://urbanaffairsreview.com/2018/06/05/public-housing-participation-in-superstorm-sandy-recovery/

Meets in room 5401, Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the Graduate Center.

Civil Society Workshop, April 19: Amy Schiller, Philanthropy’s Political Matrix: A Political Theory Treatment of Philanthropy’s Evolution and Present Discourse

Join us Thursday, April 19, at 12:30 pm, for a discussion with:

Amy Schiller, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science, on “Philanthropy’s Political Matrix: A Political Theory Treatment of Philanthropy’s Evolution and Present Discourse”

Abstract: As major philanthropic giving becomes more influential in public institutions, explorations of philanthropy focus on the ways in which private money creates relationships of dependency and heightens elite control over public institutions. Amy Schiller proposes a framework for philanthropy to, under certain conditions, build and care for a common world. After reading Hannah Arendt on culture alongside Bonnie Honig’s Public Things (2017), Schiller locates compatibilities in philanthropic gifts that create and maintain enduring spaces and institutions. If philanthropy provides for parks, galleries, museums, monuments, plazas, and other spaces designed to anchor the human world, can philanthropy then contribute to worldliness? This paper asks how philanthropy can manifest key principles for Arendt’s political ideal, namely, non-instrumentality, permanence, and plurality. Schiller explores whether a “philanthropy ethics” can exist in contrast to the anti-democratic tendencies of what Ella Myers (2013) calls “charitable ethics.” Where charitable ethics are reductive, hierarchical and anti-political, this paper locates possibilities of solidarity, in which philanthropically-funded world-building encourages people to look beyond immediate instrumentality. Following Arendt further, Schiller explores the significance of contingency and the possibility of philanthropic surrender of control to enacting this vision of philanthropy’s political potential. Alongside the substantial neoliberal trends in philanthropy, Schiller’s effort frames philanthropy’s role in public life based on philanthropists’ commitment to an enduring world, and to sharing with others the responsibility for its care.

Join us in room 5401, the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society.

Civil Society Workshop, March 22: Zhang Han, “Uncovering Authoritarian Rule: Landscape of Collective Action in China from Social Media Data”

Join us on Thursday, March 22, at 12:30 pm for a discussion with:

Zhang Han, PhD Candidate in Sociology at Princeton University on “Uncovering Authoritarian Rule: Landscape of Collective Action in China from Social Media Data”

Abstract: In authoritarian regimes, collective action—protest or other forms of collective social mobilization by groups outside the government—often represents the most effective form of political participation available to the public. Understanding the prevalence and characteristics of collective action in authoritarian settings would be highly valuable for numerous scientific and public policy purposes, yet independent measures of collective action are largely nonexistent.

The first part of this talk describes CASM, a semi-automated system of identifying real-world collective action events by utilizing social media data. We design a two-stage neural network classifier that uses text and images to recognize collective action events. We apply our system to China, using data from Sina Weibo, to identify 197,734 unique collective action events from 2010 to 2017, creating one of the largest datasets of collective action events in an authoritarian regime.

Using this unique dataset, the second part of this talk offers a comprehensive descriptive analysis on when, where, about what, against whom, and the rate of mobilization of the protest events in China.  Taking the temporal trends of protests as an example. My dataset shows that the number of protests in China did not increase after 2013, which contrast most scholar’s speculations. These descriptive results provide the base for theorization.

Meets in the Political Science Thesis Room, 5200.07

Civil Society Workshop, May 3: Mark Sidel, “China and International NGOs and Foundations: The New Framework for Control and Regulation in Intent and Practice”

Join us on Thursday, May 3, at 12:30 pm for a discussion with:

Mark Sidel, Doyle-Bascom Professor of Law and Public Affairs, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Consultant (Asia), International Center for Not-for-Profit Law

“China and International NGOs and Foundations:  The New Framework for Control and Regulation in Intent and Practice”

Abstract: On January 1, 2017, China introduced a new law and framework for monitoring and controlling the work of international NGOs and foundations in China under China’s main public security apparatus. This new system replaced a patchwork of measures on overseas foundations and NGOs in China. After more than a year of implementation of this new framework, some conclusions are now possible on what China intended to accomplish with this new, securitized mechanism, what is happening in practice, and what the future may hold for overseas NGOs and foundations in China.

Discussant: Yang Li, Associate Professor, School of Sociology/China Academy of Social Governance, Center for International NGOs and Foundations, Beijing Normal University, China, and Fulbright Visiting Scholar, Baruch College, CUNY.

Meets in the Sociology Thesis Room, 6112.01

Civil Society Workshop, April 26: Nick Micinski, “Civil Society and EU Migration Management”

The Civil Society Workshop will co-host a presentation with the European Union Studies Center on Thursday, April 26, at 12:30 pm by:

Nicholas Micinski, Ph.D. Candidate in Political Science, the Graduate Center, CUNY

“Civil Society and European Union Migration Management”

Abstract: This paper examines the role of civil society in European Union (EU) migration management, particularly during the recent mass influx of refugees and migrants in 2015-17. Based on 80 interviews with project coordinators and program officers in Greece and Italy, Micinski first describes how civil society quickly adapted to respond to the desperate humanitarian situation on the shores of Europe. Second, he identifies the informal coordination mechanisms like site working groups, email chains, Whatsapp chat groups, and individuals’ social capital that emerged during this time period. Micinski concludes that civil society actors played a crucial role in bridging the gaps of migration governance by improvising with new technologies and informal coordination when states and international organizations fell short.

We will meet in room 6112.01, the Sociology Thesis Room

Civil Society Workshop, March 1: Bin Chen, “Determinants of the Size and Scope of Lead-Organization Networks for Social Service Delivery”

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Thursday, March 1, at 12:30 pm for a discussion with

Bin Chen, Associate Professor, the Center for Nonprofit Strategy and Management in the Austin W. Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, Baruch College, CUNY

“Determinants of the Size and Scope of Lead-Organization Networks for Social Service Delivery: A Qualitative Comparative Analysis Approach”

Abstract: This presentation first provides a brief overview of Qualitative Comparative Analysis (QCA). Increasingly popular in social science research, QCA is an analytical approach and technique that examines the relationships between conditions (the counterparts of explanatory variables in regression analysis) and an outcome using set theory. This presentation highlights three major ways that distinguish QCA from the multivariate regression-based approach. First, QCA identifies configurations of conditions that contribute to the outcome rather than assuming linear and addictive effects of explanatory variables on the outcome. Second, by examining all logical combinations of conditions against empirical data, QCA enables identification of potentially multiple configurations that lead to the outcome and the absence of the outcome, thus shedding light on alternative pathways (or “recipes”). Third, QCA is best to be used for analyzing medium “N” cases (20 to 100). These three features of QCA are then especially relevant to the following study on lead-organization networks.

A network formed by a lead organization has been a popular mode of delivering publicly funded social services. In a typical lead-organization network, a public or a nonprofit organization receives a prime contract of service delivery from a government agency, partners with other service providers through subcontracting, and then form a community-based network. As a hybrid model of mandated and self-organizing networks, a question remains on how a lead-organization network model can be consequential in terms of a meaningful sharing of resources and subsequently developing and strengthening network capacity. The empirical cases included 27 community-based family preservation networks in an urban county in the West Coast of the United States. Professor Chen employed a fuzzy-set QCA to address a research question: what configurations of necessary and sufficient factors influence the consequential and lack of consequential lead-organization networks for social service delivery? The analysis identifies four configurations of factors that lead to the consequential networks and the other different four configurations of factors associated with the absence of consequential networks.

We will meet in the Sociology Department, room 6112.01

Need help with the Commons? Visit our
help page
Send us a message