Subscribe via Email

Enter your email to subscribe to CPCS blog and receive notifications of new posts

Join 2 other subscribers

Civil Society Workshop on October 25 – Wenjuan Zheng

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Wednesday, October 25, at 1 pm for a discussion with

Wenjuan Zheng

PhD Candidate, Sociology, CUNY Graduate Center

Civil Society and Social Movements under Authoritarian Regimes: Pro-democracy Social Movements in Hong Kong and Their Unintentional, Paralyzing Effects on Chinese Civil Society

Abstract: Existing scholarship on civil society and social movements tends to agree that social movement can play a more positive role in the growth of civil society. However, most of those studies were conducted in Western settings. The optimism over social movements overlooks the complexity of current institutional environments in East Asia such as China. I argue that instead of promoting civil society, social movements, which directly challenge the legitimacy of Chinese state, could have a wider unintentional effect on civil society. Using a case study of the pro-democracy movements in Hong Kong, I examine various aspects of such unintentional, paralyzing effects of social movements on Chinese civil society. Fearing Hong Kong’s protests might spill over to Mainland China, the Beijing authority adopted multiple strategies to contain the pro-democracy movements within Hong Kong, such as reframing the protests as civil disobedience. Based on media content analysis, interviews, and ethnography of grassroots NGOs in the city of Guangzhou near Hong Kong, my study shows the state has significantly strengthened the control over Guangzhou’s nonprofit sector since 2014. Before that, Hong Kong had functioned as an offshore civil society for China for many years. However, the state now places more restrictions on NGOs, particularly those with ties to Hong Kong. The Chinese Anti-Foreign NGO law also quickly passed by the Congress in early 2016. Ironically, the law has declared Hong Kong NGOs as foreign NGOs, which considerably limits their future activities in mainland China. Using the theory of field, I found three main aspects of the state’s effect on dismantling civil society: interrupting the flow of resources, undermining the legitimacy of people and organizations, and destabilizing the ties between allies. In contrast to Habermas’ argument of the potential role of social movements as agents of revitalizing civil society, I propose social movements could unintentionally set back the development of civil society under authoritarian regimes when civil society there is emerging but fragile.

We will meet in room 5401.01 (Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society)

Civil Society Workshop on October 11 – John Casey

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Wednesday, October 11, at 1 pm for a discussion with

Prof. John Casey

Marxe School of Public and International Affairs, Baruch College, CUNY

“Why Do Millenials Mock Nonprofits?”

John CaseyAbstract: In past media representations, nonprofits and their workers were generally heroic. Now they seem to be more the objects of mockery and satire. Is this as symptom of a post-irony society, the result of a general loss of trust in all institutions, or is there some particular vehemence to the millennial mocking of nonprofits? This paper explores some of the recent print and visual media representations of nonprofits and explores how they may impact on the current and future role of nonprofits and on government-nonprofit relations.
We will meet in room 5401.01 (Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society)

Civil Society Workshop on September, 27 – Katherine E. Entigar

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Wednesday, September 27, at 1 pm for a discussion with

Katherine E. Entigar, Urban Education, GC CUNY

“The education of, and with, adult immigrants in nonprofit organizations”

Image result for Katherine E. EntigarAbstract: In this talk, I will address the ways in which U.S. scholarship has generated, on the whole, incomplete, flawed knowledge about the educational experiences of adult immigrants in nonprofit organizations, signaling oversights in research as well as the development of pedagogy, teacher preparation, and educational programming. I argue that this oversight is due to the fact that (a) the dominant U.S. narrative discursively constructs adult immigrants as quiescent, politically inert future laborers needing skill-building; (b) U.S.-centric definitions of education tend to draw upon established cultural categories of “diversity,” which have been the basis for monoculturalist, prescriptive educational approaches that obscure immigrants’ transnational, fluid ways of being and knowing; and (c) nonprofit education is traditionally not subject to critique due to its role in U.S. society as a humanitarian response to social challenges. Based on these assertions, I propose a problematic which posits an inquiry-based, interdisciplinary approach to nonprofit education in which adult immigrants are co-authors of the process, partners in the creation of pedagogy and educational priorities in a dialogic, collective, unfinished process. I will discuss my pilot study in Summer 2017, as well as plans for upcoming dissertation research, in which I explore the ways in which adult immigrants as student-contributors experience nonprofit education, and how we can create pluripotential, dynamic, and contested ways of “doing education” that express an ethical, radical commitment to new possibilities in the nonprofit context and beyond

We will meet in room 5401.01 (Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, the Center’s Library)

Civil Society Workshop starts on September, 27 – Join Us!

Civil Society Workshop starts on Wednesday, September 27, at 1 pm! Come join us!


Civil Society Workshop, November 8: Heath Brown, “Civil Society against the State: Mobilizing to Undermine Institutions”

The Civil Society Workshop will meet on Wednesday, November 8, at 12.30 for a discussion with

Prof. Heath Brown

“Civil Society against the State: Mobilizing to Undermine Institutions”

Heath Brown

Abstract: Civil society is often thought of as working as a partner with government to build state institutions, even when critical of the status quo and sitting public officials. Less attention has been drawn to civil society organizations that work to undermine the state through what I call “parallel politics”. Over the last 30 years in the United States, a conservative movement based on a strongly anti-institutional ideology has sought to overturn the post World War 2 Liberal Consensus. In this paper, I focus on one part of this movement, the Homeschool Movement, which has enabled parents to educate in their homes, in the near term, but has worked in tandem with a largely conservative, libertarian, and Christian conservative project to undermine public institutions, in the long term. Homeschooling policies passed in the 1980s triggered the creation of a vast array of civil society organizations that permitted families to operate in a parallel educational system as well as to lobby for fewer and fewer government restrictions on home-based education. These organizations, many run by women, have established a powerful grassroots foundation onto which later anti-institutional movements, such as the Tea Party, were constructed.

We will meet in room 5401.01 (Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Library)

Photo Source

Challenges for philanthropic organizations in the digital era

During the International Fellows Program at the Centre of Philanthropy and Civil Society, I had an unique opportunity to have a deeper look at how the digital era could potentially affect the society and the development of philanthropic organizations.

At the digital era, new technologies can be described as the advent of “cyber-physical systems” involving entirely new capabilities for people and machines, including robotics, nanotechnology, biotechnology, artificial intelligence, The Internet of Things, 3D printing and autonomous vehicles. All of these, could lead to 21st century challenges associated with rapid technological developments, which can bring great risks to the society. As potential problems experts mentioned massive destruction of medium skilled jobs, exacerbation of inequalities, wider gender gaps, emergence of superpower oligopolies, inadequate protections of personal data, “algorithmization” of individual behaviour.  As an example, one of the biggest concerns is the increase of social inequality between the “winners” and “losers” of digital economy.

Philanthropic organizations will face questions they have not had to answer before, and in response, it is clear that innovations are critical. Yesterday’s solutions may be not applicable to address future challenges.

I’m looking for best practices and tools that address challenges mentioned, and that lead to innovation. I’m also interested to discuss about major challenges in innovation. What experiences have other civil society and philanthropy organizations have faced in the process of innovating?

Thank you! Ruta

Trends in Civic Tech: new opportunities to enhance community engagement?

Though the terminology may vary, more and more funders, investors and practitioners have joined this emerging “civic tech” field.

The purpose of my research is to enhance civic engagement within the community thanks in part to the use of many open-sources tools that can be easily adopted by citizens and NPOs.

Have you used open source community tools like Fix My Street? What was your experience with it? Any best practices or pitfalls to avoid? Thank you, Federica (Fellow 2017)

Challenges in Starting up Giving Circles

I intend to set-up a giving circle specifically for my Filipino American community here in New York. My target groups are marginalized elderly women who had migrated to the United States and found themselves facing several issues – responsibility to their immediate families back home, their own welfare here, a competitive environment in the service/domestic sector and assimilation to their newly adopted country.  I see the giving circle as an arena of empowerment for these elderly women, who are marginalized in terms of economic opportunities within their own minority group, but who can potentially be drawn to be engaged in productive activities that will benefit themselves and their community at large.  Thus, the giving circle can be a platform for these elderly women to think outwardly – the “other” person instead of just self; yet inwardly think of “self” in relation to the “other”.

Please share whatever experiences you had in starting up with your own giving circles, the challenges you faced and how in your own creative ways you found the solutions.  Thanks a million.


Video: Kevin Murphy – The Freedom to Irritate and Agitate

“Philanthropy enjoys a privileged place in society. A growing number of practitioners, including Kevin Murphy, have wrestled with the question: is our role to make grants or make a difference?

Kevin Murphy has come down on the side of make a difference. During the presentation, he’ll discuss his view that our unique position in society, and particularly the endowments that we hold, demand that philanthropy be on the forefront of challenging established norms, established structures and conventional wisdom on behalf of our communities.” [Published on Apr 19, 2013]

TED Talk by Dan Pallotta: “The way we think about charity is dead wrong”

“Activist and fundraiser Dan Pallotta calls  out the double standard that drives our broken relationship to charities. Too many nonprofits, he says, are rewarded for how little they spend ‐ not for what they get done. Instead of equating frugality with morality, he asks us to start rewarding charities for their big goals and big accomplishments (even if that comes with big expenses).” [From:  This Week on Ted.Com, E‐news, March 16, 2013]

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