Northwestern Events Calendar


CHSS Workshop: Lis Clemens, "Public Servants and Citizens, Contractors and Clients:  Delegated Governance as a Structure of Exceptions"

When: Friday, April 27, 2018
3:00 PM - 4:30 PM CT

Where: 1902 Sheridan Road, Evanston, IL 60208 map it

Audience: Faculty/Staff - Post Docs/Docs - Graduate Students

Contact: Kumar Ramanathan  

Group: Comparative-Historical Social Science Working Group

Category: Lectures & Meetings


Elisabeth S. Clemens (A.M. 1985, Ph.D 1990) is a Professor of Sociology at the University of Chicago as well as a former Master of the Social Sciences Collegiate Division. Her research explores the role of social movements and organizational innovation in political change. Clemens' first book, The People's Lobby: Organizational Innovation and the Rise of Interest Group Politics in the United States, 1890-1925 (Chicago, 1997) received best book awards in both organizational sociology (1998) and political sociology (1999). She is also co-editor of Private Action and the Public Good (Yale, 1998), Remaking Modernity: Politics, History and Sociology (Duke, 2005), Politics and Partnerships: Voluntary Associations in America's Past and Present (Chicago, 2010; winner of the 2012 Virginia Hodgkinson Research Prize from ARNOVA), and the journal Studies in American Political Development. She is now completing Civic Nation which traces the tense but powerful entanglements of benevolence and liberalism in the development of the American nation-state.

Professor Clemens will be giving a talk entitled "Public Servants and Citizens, Contractors and Clients: Delegated Governance as a Structure of Exceptions." An abstract for the project follows:

"The modern state is delineated in many ways:  at the boundaries of formal institutions, through flows of funds and services, or by the distribution of activities over which rights claims are recognized. Publicly-funded and mandated activities may be contracted to private corporations, leaving the employees of those contractors with fewer protections and rights than otherwise equivalent government employees.  Soldiers, sailors and private contractors may fight side-by-side, but their standing in relation to the state differs substantially.  Citizens may be committed to private prisons or care facilities, they may choose to attend publicly-funded but privately-owned and managed schools, or join the millions whose relationship to the Internal Revenue Service is mediated by a privately held corporation providing widely-used tax preparation software. The resulting landscape of exceptions, in which civic rights and political voice are transformed, obstructed, and constrained by the organization of governance, generates distinctive dynamics of political development.  As political support for explicitly public programs has ebbed and critiques of government have been joined to programs of privatization, opportunities for the exercise of political voice and citizen rights have been refigured in a polity configured of both public and private entities."

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