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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

Civil Society Workshop, February 22: Sarah Tansey, “International Funding for Human Rights: Who Are the Donors and Where Does the Money Go?”

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Thursday, February 22, at 12:30 pm for a discussion with

Sarah Tansey, Research Manager, Human Rights Funders Network

International Funding for Human Rights: Who Are the Donors and Where Does the Money Go?

Abstract: The Human Rights Funders Network (HRFN) is a global network of approximately 1,500 individual grantmakers committed to advancing human rights through effective philanthropy. It was founded in 1994 by a small group of philanthropists and foundation staff who wanted to share their strategies and what they were learning, discuss field-wide trends, and collaborate. In order to inform funding decisions in the field, HRFN and Foundation Center created the Advancing Human Rights: Knowledge Tools for Funders data set and research initiative. Now tracking over $12 billion and over 1000 funders, the Advancing Human Rights initiative maps the evolving state of global human rights funding through dynamic, interactive tools designed to help funders and advocates share knowledge, identify potential partners, and increase their effectiveness. This conversation will cover the full life cycle of the research, from its initial goals and methodology to its current findings to its yet-to-be-determined future, for academics as a research opportunity and as a chance to provide feedback.

We will meet in room 6112.01 at the Department of Sociology!

Civil Society Workshop, April 12: Katherine Chen, “Bounded Relationality: How Governmental, Human Service, and Advocacy Organizations Create Consumers – and Elicit Relational Work – in the Social Insurance Market”

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

Katherine Chen, Associate Professor, Sociology, City College and the Graduate Center, CUNY

“Bounded Relationality: How Governmental, Human Service, and Advocacy Organizations Create Consumers – and Elicit Relational Work – in the Social Insurance Market”

Abstract: Using observations of US advocacy, human service, and governmental organizations’ talks on social insurance, Professor Chen shows how market exchanges are facilitated by what she calls bounded relationality.  This concept synthesizes (1) Simon’s bounded rationality, which describes how organizations ease people’s difficulties with decision-making and (2) Zelizer’s relational work, which emphasizes how social relations animate market exchanges.  The studied organizations attempted to acculturate older adults and their agents – social workers, health care workers, advocates, and caregivers – to three consumer roles in the neoliberalized market: “information-gathering and processing consumers,” “savvy information-seekers,” and “watchful monitors.”   However, discussions among audiences revealed disjunctures between these expected consumer roles and people’s actions, revealing people’s reliance upon relational work to ease complex decision-making.  Professor Chen argues that markets depend upon bounded relationality in which organizations and social relations help people make complex exchanges.

We will meet in room 6107

Civil Society Workshop, February 8: Ky Woltering, “Religious Philanthropy to Support Democratization: American Protestant Aid to Germany, 1945-1949”

The Civil Society Workshop starts the new season!

We will meet on Thursday, February 8, at 12:30 pm for a discussion with

Ky Woltering, PhD Candidate, History, the Graduate Center, CUNY

“Religious Philanthropy to Support Democratization: American Protestant Aid to Germany, 1945-1949”

Abstract: This paper addressees American Protestant aid to Germans from 1945-1949. Woltering argues sympathetic American Protestant clergy launched an all-out public relations campaign to convince the American people that unless Christians supported Germans materially and spiritually, “totalitarianism” was sure to retake the country and the European continent as a whole. The result was a staggeringly successful aid campaign which preceded and eventually morphed into a Christian justification for the Marshall Plan. This process solidified free-market capitalism as synonymous with Christian identity in America, while also sacralizing American aid to Europe in the fight against totalitarianism. This presentation is an excerpt from Ky’s dissertation, entitled “’A Christian World Order:’ Protestants, Democracy and Christian Aid to Germany, 1945-1961.”

We will meet in room 5401 (Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society)

Civil Society Workshop, December 13: Trang Kelly, “How Do Civil Society Organizations Cope with the Durability of Authoritarian Regime in Vietnam?”

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Wednesday, December 13, at 1 pm for a discussion with

Trang Kelly, PhD Candidate, Social Welfare, CUNY

“How Do Civil Society Organizations Cope with the Durability of Authoritarian Regime in Vietnam?”

Abstract: There is great need for social welfare provision in Vietnam, yet the government tries to control civil society organizations (CSOs) who have directly provided services in meeting the clients’ urgent needs. Based on the 15 in-depth interviews with the 15 senior leaders of leading social service organizations in five Vietnamese cities: Hanoi, Hue, Da Nang, Ho Chi Minh City, and Can Tho, this study examines the disparity in power and resources between CSOs and government agencies in providing social services for children in Vietnam. International Donors (IDs) also play a role in providing social services. Although as an external sector, IDs indirectly affect the relationship between CSOs and government agencies based on the agenda/proposal requirements. The purpose of the study is (1) to elucidate how social service providers, or CSOs improve service to children within the current service structure, and (2) to learn how CSOs manage their relationships with government entities.

We will meet in room 5401 (Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society)

Civil Society Workshop, November 29: Anna Zhelnina, “Emotions of Inaction: Why does some discontent remain quiet?”

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Wednesday, November 29, at 1 pm for a discussion with

Anna Zhelnina, PhD Candidate, Sociology, CUNY

“Emotions of Inaction: Why Does Some Discontent Remain Quiet?”



The role of emotions in social movements and mobilization has been an important focus in recent research. However, emotional mechanisms of producing apathy and non-participation are understudied. This article explores the thinking and feeling processes involved in the production of apolitical attitudes with particular attention to their social and cultural context. I argue that cultural norms of appropriateness and emotional expression can hinder or boost the emotions involved in the mobilizing processes. I reconstruct how cultural norms of valuation and expression of emotions contribute to the production of political apathy among young Russians. Based on 60 interviews with young people in two Russian cities collected during the period of the anti-regime protests in 2011-12, the paper explores the emotional mechanisms that prevented the informed and critical people from joining or even approving of the protests.

You can access and comment the paper here

CSW group members can download the MS Word file here

We will meet in room 5401 (Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society)

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