Publications

    Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement

    Marshall Ganz, Oxford University Press, 2009

    Why David Sometimes Wins tells the story of Cesar Chavez and the United Farm Workers' groundbreaking victory, drawing important lessons from this dramatic tale. Since the 1900s, large-scale agricultural enterprises relied on migrant labor – a cheap, unorganized, and powerless workforce. In 1965, when some 800 Filipino grape workers began to strike under the aegis of the AFL-CIO, the UFW soon joined the action with 2,000 Mexican workers and turned the strike into a civil rights struggle. They engaged in civil disobedience, mobilized support from churches and students, boycotted growers, and transformed their struggle into La Causa, a farm workers' movement that eventually triumphed over the grape industry's Goliath. Why did they succeed? How can the powerless challenge the powerful successfully? Offering insight from a longtime movement organizer and scholar, Ganz illustrates how they had the ability and resourcefulness to devise good strategy and turn short-term advantages into long-term gains. Authoritative in scholarship and magisterial in scope, this book constitutes a seminal contribution to learning from the movement's struggles, setbacks, and successes.

    The State of Access: Success and Failure of Democracies to Create Equal Opportunities
    de Jong, Jorrit, and Gowher Rizvi, ed. 2009. The State of Access: Success and Failure of Democracies to Create Equal Opportunities. Brookings Institution Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract

    Jorrit de Jong and Gowher Rizvi, editors, Brookings Institution Press, 2009

    The State of Access documents a worrisome gap between principles and practice in democratic governance. This book is a comparative, cross-disciplinary exploration of the ways in which democratic institutions fail or succeed to create the equal opportunities that they have promised to deliver to the people they serve. In theory, rules and regulations may formally guarantee access to democratic processes, public services, and justice. But reality routinely disappoints, for a number of reasons—exclusionary policymaking, insufficient attention to minorities, underfunded institutions, inflexible bureaucracies. The State of Access helps close the gap between the potential and performance in democratic governance.

    The Right to Vote: The Contested History of Democracy in the United States

    Alexander Keyssar, Basic Books, 2009

    Most Americans take for granted their right to vote, whether they choose to exercise it or not. But the history of suffrage in the U.S. is, in fact, the story of a struggle to achieve this right by our society's marginalized groups. In The Right to Vote, HKS historian Alexander Keyssar explores the evolution of suffrage over the course of the nation's history. Examining the many features of the history of the right to vote in the U.S.—class, ethnicity, race, gender, religion, and age—the book explores the conditions under which American democracy has expanded and contracted over the years. Keyssar presents convincing evidence that the history of the right to vote has not been one of a steady history of expansion and increasing inclusion, noting that voting rights contracted substantially in the U.S. between 1850 and 1920. Keyssar also presents a controversial thesis: that the primary factor promoting the expansion of the suffrage has been war and the primary factors promoting contraction or delaying expansion have been class tension and class conflict. The June 2009 edition includes a new chapter on voting rights since 2000.

    Decentralizing Governance: Emerging Concepts and Practices
    Cheema, G. Shabbir, and Dennis A. Rondinelli, ed. 2007. Decentralizing Governance: Emerging Concepts and Practices. Brookings Institution Press. Visit Publisher’s Site Abstract

    G. Shabbir Cheema and Dennis A. Rondinelli, editors, Brookings Institution Press, 2007

    The trend toward greater decentralization of governance activities, now accepted as commonplace in the West, has become a worldwide movement. Today's world demands flexibility, adaptability, and the autonomy to bring those qualities to bear. In this thought-provoking book, experts in government and public management trace the evolution and performance of decentralization concepts, from the transfer of authority within government to the sharing of power, authority, and responsibilities among broader governance institutions. The contributors to Decentralizing Governance assess emerging concepts such as devolution and capacity building; they also detail factors driving the decentralization movement such as the ascendance of democracy, economic globalization, and technological progress.

    Decentralizing Governance: Emerging Concepts and Practices
    Cheema, G. Shabbir, and Dennis A. Rondinelli, ed. 2007. Decentralizing Governance: Emerging Concepts and Practices. Brookings Institution Press. Publisher's Version Abstract
    The trend toward greater decentralization of governance activities, now accepted as commonplace in the West, has become a worldwide movement. Today's world demands flexibility, adaptability, and the autonomy to bring those qualities to bear. In this thought-provoking book, experts in government and public management trace the evolution and performance of decentralization concepts, from the transfer of authority within government to the sharing of power, authority, and responsibilities among broader governance institutions. The contributors to Decentralizing Governance assess emerging concepts such as devolution and capacity building; they also detail factors driving the decentralization movement such as the ascendance of democracy, economic globalization, and technological progress.
    Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency
    Fung, Archon, Mary Graham, and David Weil. 2007. Full Disclosure: The Perils and Promise of Transparency . Cambridge University Press. Visit Publisher's Site Abstract
    Which SUVs are most likely to roll over? What cities have the unhealthiest drinking water? Which factories are the most dangerous polluters? What cereals are the most nutritious? In recent decades, governments have sought to provide answers to such critical questions through public disclosure to force manufacturers, water authorities, and others to improve their products and practices. Corporate financial disclosure, nutritional labels, and school report cards are examples of such targeted transparency policies. At best, they create a light-handed approach to governance that improves markets, enriches public discourse, and empowers citizens. But such policies are frequently ineffective or counterproductive. Based on an analysis of eighteen U.S. and international policies, Full Disclosure shows that information is often incomplete, incomprehensible, or irrelevant to consumers, investors, workers, and community residents. To be successful, transparency policies must be accurate, keep ahead of disclosers' efforts to find loopholes, and, above all, focus on the needs of ordinary citizens.
    Which SUVs are most likely to roll over? What cities have the unhealthiest drinking water? Which factories are the most dangerous polluters? What cereals are the most nutritious? In recent decades, governments have sought to provide answers to such critic
    Which SUVs are most likely to roll over? What cities have the unhealthiest drinking water? Which factories are the most dangerous polluters? What cereals are the most nutritious? In recent decades, governments have sought to provide answers to such critical questions through public disclosure to force manufacturers, water authorities, and others to improve their products and practices. Corporate financial disclosure, nutritional labels, and school report cards are examples of such targeted transparency policies. At best, they create a light-handed approach to governance that improves markets, enriches public discourse, and empowers citizens. But such policies are frequently ineffective or counterproductive. Based on an analysis of eighteen U.S. and international policies, Full Disclosure shows that information is often incomplete, incomprehensible, or irrelevant to consumers, investors, workers, and community residents. To be successful, transparency policies must be accurate, keep ahead of disclosers' efforts to find loopholes, and, above all, focus on the needs of ordinary citizens.
    What a Mighty Power We Can Be: African American Fraternal Groups and the Struggle for Racial Equality

    Theda Skocpol, Ariane Liazos, & Marshall Ganz, Princeton University Press, 2006 

    From the nineteenth through the mid-twentieth centuries, millions of American men and women participated in fraternal associations – self-selecting brotherhoods and sisterhoods that provided aid to members, enacted group rituals, and engaged in community service. Even more than whites did, African Americans embraced this type of association; indeed, fraternal lodges rivaled churches as centers of black community life in cities, towns, and rural areas alike. Using an unprecedented variety of secondary and primary sources – including old documents, pictures, and ribbon-badges found in eBay auctions – this book tells the story of the most visible African American fraternal associations. The authors demonstrate how African American fraternal groups played key roles in the struggle for civil rights and racial integration. Between the 1890s and the 1930s, white legislatures passed laws to outlaw the use of important fraternal names and symbols by blacks. But blacks successfully fought back. Employing lawyers who in some cases went on to work for the NAACP, black fraternalists took their cases all the way to the Supreme Court, which eventually ruled in their favor. At the height of the modern Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s, they marched on Washington and supported the lawsuits through lobbying and demonstrations that finally led to legal equality. This unique book reveals a little-known chapter in the story of civic democracy and racial equality in America.

    Empowered Participation: Reinventing Urban Democracy

    Archon Fung, Princeton University Press, 2006 

    Every month in every neighborhood in Chicago, residents, teachers, school principals, and police officers gather to deliberate about how to improve their schools and make their streets safer. Residents of poor neighborhoods participate as much or more as those from wealthy ones. All voices are heard. Since the meetings began more than a dozen years ago, they have led not only to safer streets, but also to surprising improvements in the city's schools. Chicago's police department and school system have become democratic urban institutions unlike any others in America. Empowered Participation is the compelling chronicle of this unprecedented transformation. It is the first comprehensive empirical analysis of the ways in which participatory democracy can be used to effect social change. Using citywide data and six neighborhood case studies, the book explores how determined Chicago residents, police officers, teachers, and community groups worked to banish crime and transform a failing city school system into a model for educational reform. The author's conclusion: Properly designed and implemented institutions of participatory democratic governance can spark citizen involvement that in turn generates innovative problem-solving and public action. Their participation makes organizations more fair and effective.

    Fung, Archon, David Weil, Mary Graham, and Elena Fagotto. 2004. “The Political Economy of Transparency: What Makes Disclosure Policies Effective?”. Read the full report Abstract

    Archon Fung, David Weil, Mary Graham and Elena Fagotto, December 2004 

    Transparency systems have emerged in recent years as a mainstream regulatory tool, an important development in social policy. Transparency systems are government mandates that require corporations or other organizations to provide the public with factual information about their products and practices. Such systems have a wide range of regulatory purposes which include protecting investors, improving public health and safety, reducing pollution, minimizing corruption and improving public services.

    Despite the Odds: The Contentious Politics of Education Reform

    Merilee S. Grindle, Princeton University Press, 2004

    Despite the Odds poses an important question: How can we account for successful policy reform initiatives when the political cards are stacked against change? Theories of politics usually predict that reform initiatives will be unsuccessful when powerful groups are opposed to change and institutions are biased against it. This book, however, shows how the strategic choices of reform proponents alter the destinies of policy reforms by reshaping power equations and undermining institutional biases that impede change. Despite the Odds opens the "black box" of decision making in five initiatives designed to enhance the quality of education services in Latin America. The book addresses the strategies used by reformers to manage the political process of change and those adopted by opposition groups and institutions resisting their efforts.

    Deepening Democracy: Institutional Innovations in Empowered Participatory Governance

    Archon Fung and Erik Olink Wright, Verso Press, 2003

    The institutional forms of liberal democracy developed in the 19th century seem increasingly ill-suited to the problems we face in the 21st. This dilemma has given rise in some places to a new, deliberative democracy, and this volume explores four contemporary empirical cases in which the principles of such a democracy have been at least partially instituted: the participatory budget in Porto Alegre; the school decentralization councils and community policing councils in Chicago; stakeholder councils in environmental protection and habitat management; and new decentralized governance structures in Kerala. In keeping with the other Real Utopias Project volumes, these case studies are framed by an editor’s introduction, a set of commentaries, and concluding notes.

    Fung, Archon, David Weil, Mary Graham, and Elena Fagotto. 2002. “The Political Economy of Transparency: What Makes Disclosure Policies Sustainable?”. Read Full Paper Abstract

    Archon Fung, David Weil, Mary Graham and Elena Fagotto, December 2002

    This paper explores the dynamics of transparency. It asks why some government-created systems improve over time while others stagnate or degenerate into costly paperwork exercises. As products of the political process, transparency policies inevitably begin as unlikely compromises. Though transparency is universally admired in principle, its particular applications frequently conflict with other societal values or powerful political interests. Disclosing information can clash with efforts to protect public safety and proprietary information, to guard personal privacy, or to limit regulatory burdens. It can also clash with the central economic and political objectives of target organizations that may view such disclosure as a threat to reputation, markets or political influence. At the same time, the benefits of disclosure are often diffuse. Beneficiaries may be consumers, investors, employees, and community residents. Such users are rarely organized to support and oversee transparency systems.

    Democracy by Disclosure

    Mary Graham, Brookings, August 2002 

    Drawing on detailed profiles of disclosure systems for toxic releases, nutritional labeling, and medical errors, Graham explains why the move toward greater transparency has flourished during a time of regulatory retrenchment and why corporations have often supported these massive raids on proprietary information. However, Democracy by Disclosure, sounds a cautionary note. Just as systems of financial disclosure have come under new scrutiny in the wake of Enron’s collapse, systems of social disclosure deserve careful examination. Behind the seemingly simple idea of transparency, political battles rage over protecting trade secrets, minimizing regulatory burdens, and guarding national security. Like other forms of regulation, disclosure systems can be distorted by narrow scope, flawed metrics, minimal enforcement, or failure to adapt to changing markets and public priorities. Graham urges designers of future systems to heed lessons from early experience to avoid misleading the public.

    Oppositional Consciousness: The Subjective Roots of Social Protest

    Jane Mansbridge, University Of Chicago Press, 2001

    How can human beings be induced to sacrifice their lives – even one minute of their lives – for the sake of their group? This question, central to understanding the dynamics of social movements, is at the heart of this collection of original essays. The book is the first to conceptualize and illustrate the complex patterns of negotiation, struggle, borrowing, and crafting that characterize what the editors term "oppositional consciousness" – an empowering mental state that prepares members of an oppressed group to undermine, reform, or overthrow a dominant system. Each essay employs a recent historical case to demonstrate how oppositional consciousness actually worked in the experience of a subordinate group. Based on participant observation and interviews, chapters focus on the successful social movements of groups such as African Americans, people with disabilities, sexually harassed women, Chicano workers, and AIDS activists. Ultimately, Oppositional Consciousness sheds new light on the intricate mechanisms that drive the important social movements of our time.

    Beyond Backyard Environmentalism
    Fung, Archon, Bradley Karkkainen, and Charles Sabel. 2000. Beyond Backyard Environmentalism. Beacon Press. Abstract

    Archon Fung, Bradley Karkkainen, Charles Sabel; Beacon Press; July 2000

    When we think of environmental action, we draw upon images from the disaster of Love Canal or from A Civil Action-stories of lone activists fighting the government or some corporation against all odds. In their provocative essay, Sabel, Fung, and Karkkainen demonstrate that an effective alternative is emerging. Before environmental disasters occur, citizen groups are collaborating with experts, business leaders, and local and federal governments to figure out what is best for their own neighborhoods. These examples point to more than successful environmental action; they represent a model of grassroots democracy that can be applied to the needs of any community. 

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