Outsourcing Government: Boston and the Rise of Public-Private Partnerships, 1950-2000
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CitationDunning, Claire. 2016. Outsourcing Government: Boston and the Rise of Public-Private Partnerships, 1950-2000. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
AbstractThrough a study of Boston and federal social policy, this dissertation analyzes the rise of public-private partnerships between government and nonprofit organizations in the United States over the second half of the twentieth century. A mixture of community mobilization and an elite knowledge economy positioned Boston at the forefront of a growing nonprofit sector that repeatedly captured the attention of funders in government and philanthropy. A policy shift in the 1960s for the first time authorized federal agencies to issue grants to private, nonprofit organizations as a strategy of poverty reduction and urban governance. Outsourcing social welfare provision in this way positioned nonprofit organizations as responsible for the economic, physical, political, and social development of neighborhoods. Such public-private partnerships infused neighborhood-based nonprofits with resources and authority that increased community control over the distribution of public goods and services. This decentralized, privatized system of governance grew the size, reach, and activities of the American state, but did so in indirect and ultimately insufficient ways.
The project pairs policy analysis with narratives of local implementation, attending as much to how programs operated and received funding, as to what they actually did. An approach combining urban, policy, and business histories is applied to the extant records of many Boston nonprofits—grant applications, government program manuals, nonprofit reports, legislation, financial data, and contract agreements—to follow the local careers of several federal programs, including the Juvenile Delinquency and Youth Crime Commission, War on Poverty, Model Cities, Law Enforcement Assistance Administration, Community Development Block Grants and Empowerment Zones. This emphasis on implementation in Boston neighborhoods reveals how liberalism and neoliberalism functioned as governing practices that transformed the shape of the American welfare state and the institutional landscape of cities. Delivering social welfare through private, local, and, increasingly, market-based mechanisms produced affordable housing, provided social services, and encouraged participation. At the same time, the rise of public-private partnerships did little to prevent the continued concentration of poverty and inequality that characterized American cities at the end of the twentieth century.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493268
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