Politics

Nonprofits as “Schools of Democracy”: A Comparative Case Study of Two Environmental Organizations

Nonprofits as “Schools of Democracy”: A Comparative Case Study of Two Environmental Organizations
2016. Published online before print May 4, 2015, doi: 10.1177/0899764015584063. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, June 2016 45(3): 478-499.

Dodge, J. and S. M. Ospina
10/26/2015

This article presents a comparative case study of two nonprofit organizations that do community organizing in the environmental field and asks how do nonprofits school citizens in democracy? Although the literature suggests the importance of social capital, a practice approach surfaces important political dimensions that have not been sufficiently explored. We find that distinct organizational practices create contexts for participants to exercise specific ways of being and doing—called “subject positions”—vis-à-vis the state and their political community. These practices support member participation by serving to construct “citizens”—rather than customers or clients—who develop skills in critical thinking and who exercise agency in the organization and the policy field they seek to influence. These practices represent key mechanisms for schooling citizens in democracy in these nonprofit organizations and link participation in the organization with broader political participation. We discuss implications for theory and practice.

Where have all the reinventors gone? How government reform will shape the 2016 election

Where have all the reinventors gone? How government reform will shape the 2016 election
Governance Studies at Brookings

Paul C. Light
04/24/2015

The 2016 presidential election will likely feature two tough questions about government reform, writes Paul C. Light. First, should the next president cut federal programs to reduce the power of government, or maintain existing programs to deal with important problems? Second, should the next president winnow the federal agenda to a smaller set of priorities, or accept the current priorities and focus on reducing federal inefficiency?

Winning from the Center: Frank Bigelow and California's Nonpartisan Primary

Winning from the Center: Frank Bigelow and California's Nonpartisan Primary
California Journal of Politics and Policy, 7(1). 2015.

Sinclair, J. Andrew
02/11/2015

In 2012, California first used a nonpartisan “top-two” primary. Early academic studies of the effects statewide have produced mixed results on the key question: does the new law make it possible for more moderate candidates to win? This study focuses on one particular California State Assembly race, District 5, from 2012 to assess the operation of the new law in detail in one same-party runoff. Republicans Frank Bigelow and Rico Oller competed against each other in both rounds; Bigelow, the more moderate Republican, won the general election. This study uses the internal Bigelow campaign polling data (three surveys of 400 voters each) to assess the dynamics of the race, revealing not just voter attitudes towards the candidates but the reasons for Bigelow campaign choices. The results suggest that although little strategic behavior took place in the first round, voters, including Democrats, tended to support the spatially logical candidate in the general election – with the advantage to Bigelow, the candidate closer to the median voter of the district.

Government By the People, 2014 Elections and Updates Edition (25th Edition)

Government By the People, 2014 Elections and Updates Edition (25th Edition)
Upper Saddle River, NJ: Pearson, 2015.

Magleby, David B., Paul C. Light, and Christine L. Nemacheck
01/03/2015

Government by the People provides a thorough, Constitution-based introduction to the foundational principles, processes, and institutions of American government. Throughout, authors David Magleby, Paul Light, and Christine Nemacheck highlight the central role that people play in a constitutional democracy, inspiring students to see how similarities and differences in political beliefs continue to shape government to this day. The 2014 Elections and Updates Edition includes coverage of the major issues in today’s headlines to engage students in learning, as well as to boost the relevance of course material to students’ lives.

Decentralization in Uganda: Reforms, Reversals, and an Uncertain Future

Decentralization in Uganda: Reforms, Reversals, and an Uncertain Future
In Tyler Dickovich and James Wunsch, eds., Decentralization in Africa: A Comparative Perspective. (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 2014).

Smoke, P., W. Muhumuza and E. Ssewankambo
07/25/2014

Uganda was long considered one of the most successful cases of public sector devolution in the developing world. The post-conflict national government began robust empowerment of local governments in the early 1990s. The drive for reform emerged largely from domestic political forces with little involvement of the external donor agencies that have often promoted decentralization in countries with similar development profiles. Two decades after this highly touted reform began, the system has severely deteriorated on almost every aspect by which decentralization is usually judged. This chapter documents the economic, political and social dynamics that led to the rise of decentralization and also laid the foundation for its decline. The chapter concludes by suggesting possible future scenarios for the intergovernmental system in Uganda and drawing potential lessons for other countries considering such bold reforms.

A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It

A Cascade of Failures: Why Government Fails, and How to Stop It
Brookings Institute, Center for Effective Public Management, Washington D.C., July 2014.

Light, Paul C.
07/14/2014

In this research paper, Paul C. Light writes that the “first step in preventing future failures is to find a reasonable set of past failures that might yield lessons for repair.” To meet this goal, Light asks four key questions about past federal government failures: (1) where did government fail, (2) why did government fail, (3) who caused the failures, and (4) what can be done to fix the underlying problems?

Can Democracy Survive Democracy

Can Democracy Survive Democracy
Public Administration Review Vol 74 Issue 4

David Elcott
06/04/2014

A review of Cornell W. Clayton and Richard Elgar, eds, Civility and Democracy in America: A Reasonable Understanding (Pullman, Washington: Washington State University Press, 2012).The focus is on the historical activist role of religion in policy formulation and implementation in the U.S. and the implications for present day faith communities' engagement in the public arena.

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