Community and Governance in Boston: Understanding the Role of Non-Profits in Politics and Policy



BU Initiative On Cities, 75 Bay State Road


Oct 6, 2022


12:30 EDT



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About the event

Join the BU Initiative on Cities, the BU American Politics Seminar Series, and the Leventhal Map & Education Center at the Boston Public Library for a discussion on the role of nonprofit and community-based organizations in the City of Boston. The event will feature authors, Claire Dunning (Nonprofit Neighborhoods; University of Maryland, College Park) and Jeremy Levine (Constructing Community; University of Michigan), who will share insights from their recent books on the nonprofit sector’s impact on urban development and policy. Lunch will be provided.

About the authors:

Claire Dunning is an assistant professor in the School of Public Policy at the University of Maryland, College Park, where she is an affiliated faculty member in the Do Good Institute and the History Department. Her book, Nonprofit Neighborhoods, is an exploration of how and why American city governments delegated the responsibility for solving urban inequality to the nonprofit sector. Dunning uncovers an illuminating story of how the nonprofit sector became such a dominant force in American society, as well as a troubling one of why this growth occurred alongside persistent poverty and widening inequality. The book connects these two stories in histories of race, democracy, and capitalism, revealing how the federal government funded and deputized nonprofits to help individuals in need, and in so doing avoided addressing the structural inequities that necessitated such action in the first place.

Jeremy Levine is an Assistant Professor of Organizational Studies and Sociology at the University of Michigan. His book, Constructing Community, looks at the benefits and consequences of the rise of community-based organizations in urban development and offers a rich ethnographic portrait of the individuals who implement community development projects in the Fairmount Corridor, one of Boston’s poorest areas. He uncovers a network of nonprofits and philanthropic foundations making governance decisions alongside public officials—a public-private structure that has implications for democratic representation and neighborhood inequality.

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