Evelyn Z. Brodkin: After the Electoral Earthquake: The Politics of Inequality and Reflections on the Policy-Practice-Politics Connection


Monday, November 14, 2016, 12:00pm to 1:45pm


Harvard Kennedy School: Allison Dining Room

Evelyn Z. Brodkin, Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration, University of Chicago.

In the aftermath of the 2016 election, we confront difficult questions about what disrupted the previous political order, why, and what happens next. Although it is too early to say anything for certain, it seems likely that the politics of inequality will be even more fraught than before.

This moment calls for a reconsideration of the politics of inequality and, particularly, government's role in addressing poverty and inequality. That reconsideration should include attention to the connection between policy, practice, and politics, building on insights from political-institutionalist and street-level theory and research.

These perspectives offer different ways to think about social policy strategies, how they are experienced on the ground, and how that matters.

Background reading

Evelyn Z. Brodkin, "Street-level organizations and the welfare state." Chapter 2 in Work and the Welfare State: Street-Level Organizations and Workfare Politics, Evelyn Z. Brodkin and Gregory Marston, eds. Washington DC: Georgetown University Press, 2013.

About the speaker

Evelyn Z. Brodkin is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration at the University of Chicago and a Faculty Affiliate at the University of Michigan's National Poverty Center, a national and interdisciplinary academic research center that seeks to advance understanding of what it means to be poor in America. Her major areas of research cross-cut three fields of study: social policy, street-level organizations, and welfare state politics.  

Professor Brodkin's research investigates the politics of the American welfare state and, specifically, how public policies and institutions are reshaping the politics of poverty and inequality. In recent years she has expanded her research internationally, studying social policy and governance reforms in the US and Europe. Her co-edited book, Work and the Welfare State: Street-Level Organizations and Workfare Politics (Georgetown University Press, 2013), examines the advance of workfare-style policies from state-level to street-level in six countries: the US, UK, Denmark, Germany, the Netherlands, and Australia.

Brodkin is one of the leading scholars of street-level organizations, the agencies at the front-lines of public policy delivery. Her research in this field contributes to both critical policy and public management research, examining how new governance and managerial strategies are reshaping the street-level organizations "at the operational core of the welfare state." Her review of the field, "Reflections on Street-Level Bureaucracy: Past, Present, and Future" (Public Administration Review, 2012), received the  Burchfield Award from the American Society for Public Administration. She also edited a symposium, "Putting Street-Level Organizations First: New Directions for Research," in the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory in 2011.

Professor Brodkin received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.P.A. with honors from Northeastern University, and a B.S. with honors in Journalism from Boston University. Her work has been recognized by the American Political Science Association (Herbert Kaufman Award), the American Public Administration Association (Burchfield Award), and the Open Society Institute, where she was named a Fellow.

Internationally, Brodkin has held visiting professorships in Australia, Denmark, France, and Mexico. She serves on the advisory committee of the U.K. Inter-University Collaboration on Welfare Conditionality and on the steering committee of the RESQ international research network, which brings together researchers from Europe, U.S., and Australia to develop and refine the comparative and theoretical study of policy and service reforms in selected OECD-countries and the U.S. She has been invited to speak on her research in Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Israel, Mexico, the Netherlands, Sweden, and the UK.

See also: Fall 2016