The Civic Life of Cities: Professional expertise and the organizational production of urban integration
Sciences Po, Room C 907, 9 rue de la chaise 75007 Paris and via Zoom*
In a wired and globalized world, how do place-based social interactions continue to define cities and their civil society? In response to this question, a recent collection of essays from San Francisco, Seattle, Shenzhen, Singapore, Sydney, and Vienna suggests a dual emphasis on place and organizations. Based on data from the Civic Life of Cities project, we show how comparisons of the people, practices, and partnerships of civil society organizations enable new middle-range theories of civil society. Our approach promises to offer rich comparative insights into similarities and differences among organizations around the globe.
This talk will draw on the San Francisco data and some preliminary global comparisons to examine the organizational production of urban integration. Civil society organizations' presence in cities has been shown to be causally connected to such community-level outcomes as connectedness, crime, entrepreneurship, and crisis resilience. Yet neighborhood and city-level studies conceal when and how organizations contribute to the production two interrelated outcomes: social integration, creating social ties among constituents, as well as systemic integration, connecting constituents to institutional resources. We illustrate how professional expertise shapes the integrative practices of civil society organizations by drawing on quantitative data and in-depth interviews. Bridging organizational and urban studies, we challenge the stylized fact that civil society organizations necessarily foster community and suggest alternative ways to understand and operationalize how organizations are embedded in their urban environment.
Christof Brandtner is an assistant professor at emlyon and a senior research fellow at the Stanford Civic Life of Cities Lab.
An organizational sociologist, he studies how institutions, organizations, and urban environments shape the emergence and diffusion of social innovations. He conducts research on civil society organizations, urban governance, and institutional change. His work has appeared in the American Journal of Sociology, Sociological Theory, Organization Studies, and Urban Studies, among others. He is writing Cities in Action, a book about cities’ efforts to mitigate and adapt to climate change (under contract with Columbia University Press).
Stijn Oosterlynck, Professor in Urban Sociology at the Department of Sociology at University of Antwerp
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