Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Social service agencies: An examination of participation, governance, and advocacy in Bloomington, Indiana
by Greer, Kerry, Ph.D., Indiana University, 2014, 260; 3670275
Abstract (Summary)

Over the past forty years, responsibility for addressing poverty has shifted to the private sector, a result of elite interests and a changing political culture. Policy changes have eroded the state's effort at providing a social safety net, and replaced this effort with a nonprofit sector that is dependent on a complex mix of private and public funding. Using resource dependency theory, this research considers how grantmakers and field-level actors influence policies within nonprofit organizations. Ethnographic research in Bloomington, Indiana, a community that takes pride in its active citizenry and its robust social service sector, serves as a case study for examining how this mix of private and public effort address poverty. Using data collected from 35 social service agencies and in-depth studies of four nonprofit agencies that reflect the range of funding models, this research examines how the external environment affects participation, governance, and advocacy efforts within agencies. In terms of participation, this research shows that some agencies that rely on volunteers and community donations reflect an empowerment organizational culture, but that the complexity of government funding presents a major challenge to agencies, requiring professional skills and knowledge that exceed what is found in the community. With regard to governance, as agencies have to devote more effort to securing and managing funding, missions shift, services are reduced, and empowerment cultures are threatened. Advocacy efforts, except when considered most broadly as securing additional resources for clients, are of minimal importance among agency directors and board members.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Robinson, Robert V.
Commitee: Eder, Donna, Libby, Andrew, Michelson, Ethan, Rojas, Fabio
School: Indiana University
Department: Sociology
School Location: United States -- Indiana
Source: DAI-A 76/05(E), Dissertation Abstracts International
Subjects: Social work, Public policy, Organizational behavior
Keywords: Community, Nonprofit, Poverty, Social services
Publication Number: 3670275
ISBN: 978-1-321-46604-1
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