Penn Arts and Sciences


Constituents without Citizenship: Immigrant Civic Inclusion in New Destinations (Erica Dobbs)

Fri, 04/10/2015 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

WHY DO SOME POLITICAL ACTORS SEEK TO INCLUDE immigrants in civic life – for example, widening the pathway to citizenship or encouraging electoral participation – while others are indifferent or actively seek to exclude new arrivals?  In this manuscript workshop, SSPF Postdoctoral Fellow Erica Dobbs explores variation in civic outreach to immigrants in “new destinations,” societies where immigration is a recent phenomenon.  Drawing on the cases of Spain, Ireland, and Northern Ireland, the project considers why similar political actors facing similar waves of migration respond in such different ways, and argues that understanding how societies managed demands for greater civic inclusion from its own minority groups in the past can help us explain civic outreach to immigrants in the present.

Michael Jones-Correa (Professor of Government, Cornell) and Rahsaan Maxwell (Associate Professor of Political Science, UNC-Chapel Hill) will comment on Dobbs' manuscript.

“Why do some native political actors take on the task of incorporating new immigrants, while others ignore or actively move to exclude them from civic life? I argue that these differences in how native political actors in receiving countries respond to immigrants in the present are due to how they have settled internal social conflicts in the past. Specifically, I argue that the ability and willingness of native political actors in new destination countries to take action in order to bring new immigrants into civic life depends on how these societies have dealt with the political inclusion of their own native minorities.
     I find that past social conflict over the political exclusion of minorities - whether religious, ethnic, or cultural - can lead to the development of minorityfriendly political and social institutions, empower previously marginalized minority groups, and establish social narratives oriented towards addressing issues of marginalization and exclusion. When confronted with new immigration, these previously marginalized groups and other beneficiaries of these reforms may repurpose the institutions and narratives developed to address the past civic exclusion of natives in order to facilitate the civic inclusion of new immigrants. In this way, countries with a legacy of deep social conflict may be better prepared to deal with new immigration than their more stable counterparts.”  – From the Introduction to Constituents without Citizenship

ERICA DOBBS, THIS YEAR'S SSPF POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW, received her Ph.D. in political science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in September 2013, after earning her B.A. in history at Howard University, and her M.P.P. at the Kennedy School at Harvard University. Her research focuses on how the global movement of both capital and labor drives local political actors to re-evaluate notions of citizenship and identity, strategies for collective action, and the structure of institutions.  In her dissertation project, she explores when and why native political actors in countries where immigration is a relatively recent phenomenon move to treat new immigrants as constituents.  Her next project will focus on “Justice for Janitors” campaigns in the U.S. South, and will examine the viability of this approach to mobilizing low-wage service workers outside of traditional union strongholds.

The End of “Integrated Poverty” in Mediterranean Europe (Chiara Saraceno)

Fri, 04/17/2015 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

POVERTY IN EUROPEAN MEDITERRANEAN COUNTRIES has long been widespread, and policies to combat it scarce. Given its embeddedness in family and community, however, it has also been less marginalized and stigmatized than in many other societies, making it what French sociologist Serge Paugam has termed “integrated poverty.” In this talk, Professor Saraceno argues that changing social and cultural conditions in Mediterranean Europe have transformed the experience of poverty. While it is still widespread, family-centered, and geographically concentrated, cultural reference groups and aspirations have become more de-localized, strengthening the perception of  injustice and misfortune, while family solidarity is increasingly under stress.  At the same time, income support measures have been implemented so that, in order to receive support, the poor must increasingly give up their rights as citizens and adults, agreeing to be told what their needs are and how they should behave. So, while Mediterranean poverty remains distinctive, it increasingly involves the experiences of marginality and denigration typical of other areas.

CHIARA SARACENO is Professor Emerita at the Social Science Research Center Berlin (WZB) and an Honorary Fellow at the Collegio Carlo Alberto in Turin. She is an internationally recognized sociologist who focuses on the dynamics of family change in Italy, as well as comparative gender patterns and social policies regarding the family in Europe and beyond. She also works on poverty and anti-poverty policies in a comparative perspective. Among her recent publications are Il Welfare, il Mulino (2013); I nuovi poveri (2011); Conciliare famiglia e lavoro (with Manuela Naldini) (2011); “Towards an integrated approach for the analysis of gender equity in policies supporting paid work and care responsibilities” (with W. Keck), Demographic Research (2011); “Social inequalities in facing old-age dependency: a bi-generational perspective,” Journal of European Social Policy (2010); and “Can we identify intergenerational policy regimes in Europe?” (with W. Keck), European Societies (2010). Together with J. Lewis and A. Leira, she edited the collection Families and Family Policies (2012).

False Choice: The New Spatial Politics of Poverty (Margaret Weir)

Fri, 12/12/2014 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

FOR MORE THAN THREE DECADES, the policies that set the menu of opportunities and obstacles for poor and near-poor Americans have operated on false premises. Federal programs have assumed that low-income people face few barriers in searching out opportunities and exercising choice in the free market, even as state and local policymakers have created numerous spatial barriers that have made employment, social services, and other opportunities costly, difficult, or impossible to access. Moreover, federal policies have ignored the need to build supportive institutions to assist low-income Americans, assuming that private organizations will emerge when and where new needs appear. But dwindling federal funds, local indifference, and weak local capacities have meant that organizations designed to assist low-income people are overburdened, poorly located, or simply do not exist. Drawing on the cases of Chicago and Atlanta, as well as on national data on nonprofit organizations, Weir considers the disjuncture between federal programs directed at low-income people and the local spatial barriers that confront them.

"In what ways does the increased presence of the poor in suburbs present new opportunities for upward mobility? Depending on the organization of public authority, the suburban poor may benefit from better services (this was part of the argument in favor of deconcentrating the poor.) For, example, when low income students attend middle class suburban schools, they are more likely to improve their academic achievement (Kahlenberg 2003). Yet, as suburbs become more economically and socially diverse, there is some evidence that they create new mechanisms of separation – e.g. newly incorporated cities (e.g. Sandy Springs, GA) or the erosion of county-wide school systems with charter schools. The beneficial mixing that exists in some suburbs may be temporary as even exurban areas experience white flight."
-- From "The Politics of Spatial Inequality"

MARGARET WEIR is Professor of Sociology and Political Science and Avice M. Saint Chair in Public Policy at the University of California, Berkeley. She has written widely on the politics of social policy and inequality in the United States and Europe.  Her publications include “Collaboration is Not Enough” (with Jane Rongerude and Chris Ansell) in Urban Affairs Review (2009), “The Long Shadow of the Past: Risk Pooling and the Political Development of Health Care Reform in the States” (with Anthony Chen) in Journal of Health Politics, Policy and Law (2009) and “States, Race, and the Decline of New Deal Liberalism” in Studies in American Political Development (2005).  She is the author of Politics and Jobs: The Boundaries of Employment Policy in the United States (1992) and (with Ira Katznelson), Schooling for All:  Class, Race and the Decline of the Democratic Ideal (1992).  Her edited volumes include The Social Divide: Political Parties and the Future of Activist Government (1998) and (with Ann Shola Orloff and Theda Skocpol), The Politics of Social Policy in the United States (1988). Weir was chair of the MacArthur Foundation Network on Building Resilient Regions from 2006-2014.

Urban Poverty After the Crime Drop (Patrick Sharkey)

Fri, 02/27/2015 - 12:00pm

GROWING UP IN HIGH-POVERTY NEIGHBORHOODS has severe consequences for child development.  Sharkey argues that exposure to violent crime is a central reason for this, as indicated by several studies designed to identify the causal effect of exposure to specific incidents of violence on children’s cognitive functioning and academic performance.  In this light, what does the two-decade long drop in violent crime in the U.S. mean to those growing up in high-poverty neighborhoods? Sharkey examines evidence showing where violence has declined and where it has not, and seeks in ongoing research to determine whether the crime decline has reduced childhood inequality in America and whether it has changed the meaning of urban poverty.

“Comparing African American children living in Chicago to peers living in the same neighborhoods but assessed at different times, Sharkey (2010) found that children perform substantially worse on cognitive skills assessments if they are given the assessments in the immediate period of four to seven days following a local homicide that occurred near the home. The effect was strongest when the homicide occurred in the block group in which the child lived, weaker if it occurred in the census tract, and weaker still if it occurred in the larger neighborhood cluster, which was measured as a cluster of contiguous tracts. The pattern showing decaying effects of local violence suggests that the mechanism leading to impaired cognitive functioning likely involves the stress, shock, trauma, or fear experienced by individual children who are exposed to or made aware of extreme violence close to home.”
-- From "Where, When,Why, and For Whom Do Residential Contexts Matter? Moving Away from the Dichotomous Understanding of Neighborhood Effects" (co-authored with Jacob W. Faber)

PATRICK SHARKEY is an Associate Professor of Sociology at New York University. His highly praised book, Stuck in Place: Urban Neighborhoods and the End of Progress toward Racial Equality (2013) describes how, four decades after the high hopes of the Civil Rights Movement, the degree of racial inequality has barely changed. To understand what went wrong, he argues that we have to understand what has happened to African American communities over the last several decades and how political decisions and social policies have led to severe disinvestment from black neighborhoods, persistent segregation, declining economic opportunities, and a growing link between African American communities and the criminal justice system. Ultimately, he advocates urban policies that have the potential to create transformative and sustained changes in urban communities and the families that live within them, and he outlines a durable urban policy agenda to move in that direction.

The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress, and the Battle for the Great Society (Julian Zelizer)

Fri, 01/23/2015 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm

BETWEEN NOVEMBER 1963, WHEN HE BECAME PRESIDENT, and November 1966, when his party was routed in the midterm elections, Lyndon Johnson spearheaded “The Great Society,” the most transformative agenda in American political history since the New Deal. Contrary to the conventional understanding that this was an unprecedented “liberal hour” in America, a moment, after Kennedy’s death, when the seas parted and Johnson could simply stroll through to victory, Professor Zelizer argues that Johnson’s legislative program faced bitter resistance, and that was the election of 1964 and burgeoning civil rights movement transformed conditions on Capitol Hill and made Congress receptive to passing the legislation in a short period of time.

Though our politics have changed, the heart of the Great Society legislation remains intact fifty years later. In fact, Zelizer argues, the Great Society shifted the American political center of gravity—and our social landscape—decisively to the left in many crucial respects. In a very real sense, we are living today in the country that Johnson and his Congress made.

"I believe in the power of institutions—Congress, public policy, certain ideas about politics—that last for a long time. I don’t believe that we recreate the political playing field very often in this country. I don’t believe presidential elections usually have transformative power or that scandals or moments of reform remake the political playing field. When I tell my students about history and when I write about history, I’m always interested in the limitations of change and try to understand all the constraints that Congress and the president face and how they try to move beyond them and how much weight the past has on any given moment."
-- Julian Zelizer, in an interview on The Daily Beast

"The emphasis [of The Fierce Urgency of Now] falls on the high, and sometimes low, workings of legislative government, as bills inched through committees and subcommittees, nicked and scarred in “mark-up” sessions; the feint-and-parry of parliamentary maneuver; and, above all, the votes. This patient no-frills approach offers illuminations that a more cinematic treatment might not. And if Zelizer, a professor of history and public affairs at Princeton, at times betrays the head-counting instincts of a House whip, well, head-counting is the nuts and bolts of congressional lawmaking."
-- Sam Tanenhaus, describing Zelizer's book in the New Yorker

JULIAN ZELIZER is a Professor of History and Public Affairs at Princeton University. He has been one of the pioneers in the revival of American political history. He is the author of Taxing America: Wilbur D. Mills, Congress, and the State, 1945-1975 (1998), On Capitol Hill: The Struggle to Reform Congress and its Consequences, 1948-2000 (2004), Arsenal of Democracy: The Politics of National Security – From World War II to the War on Terrorism (2010), and Conservatives in Power: The Reagan Years, 1981-1989 (2010). In addition to his scholarly articles and book chapters, Zelizer is a frequent commentator in the international and national media on political history and contemporary politics. He has published over four hundred op-eds, including his weekly column on CNN.Com. He has received fellowships from the Brookings Institution, the Guggenheim Foundation, and the Russell Sage Foundation. His newly published book, the basis for his talk, is The Fierce Urgency of Now: Lyndon Johnson, Congress and the Battle for the Great Society.

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