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book review – between movement and establishment: organizations advocating for youth by mclaughlin, scott, deschenes, hopkins, and newman

In the latest ASQ, I’ve got a review of Between Movement and Establishment, a book on youth organizations written by Milbrey McLaughlin, W. Richard Scott, Sarah Deschenes, Katherine Hopkins, and Anne Newman. I liked the book. I’ve always wondered what was up with this nebulous field of non-profits. A key clip:

The most distinctive contribution of Between Movement and Establishment is the observation that coalition building and civic capacity are organizational outcomes. A key theme is that youth advocacy organizations can only assert their influence on school districts and health services by mobilizing various constituencies in the Bay Area. Therefore the rise of youth advocacy groups entails a broader political development. Sometimes this happens at the grassroots level. Youth advocacy groups may target churches and neighborhood groups in an attempt to infl uence local school boards, and these relationships can assume a life of their own. Mobilizing for youth and education has the consequence of developing a neighborhood’s political capacity. At other times, youth advocacy groups target the state government to create bridges between local constituencies and state agencies.

Even though I think this is an important issue, I did have one big criticism. I thought  there was too much on fields and governance, not enough discussion of outcomes:

Organizational governance and structure is discussed at length but the discussion of outcomes is surprisingly brief. For example, in a chapter called “Diverse Ways of Making a Difference,” the authors describe the different outcomes generated by youth advocacy groups. There are social logics, coalitions, and civic capacities, but a surprisingly limited discussion of young people. On many occasions, the book mentions specific policies: funding for after school programs (p. 106); mandated funds for youth services in the San Francisco city budget (p. 137); targeting blighted properties that attract crime (p. 103); and promoting small schools (p. 104). But the book does not ask a crucial question: Did children have better lives because of the reforms advocated by these groups? Do drop-out rates decrease? Do more children make the transition to college? Do fewer young people end up in prisons because of programs promoted by these organizations?

In other words, like much institutional writing, a lot of attention to fields and populations, not too much on outcomes. The next generation of scholars should tackle this head on, especially in an era when we are generating so much new knowledge about assessing policy outcomes. Despite my criticism, I did find this book good and recommend it to scholars interested in educational politics and organizations.

Written by fabiorojas

September 17, 2010 at 6:27 am

4 Responses

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  1. […] book review – between movement and establishment: organizations advocating for youth by mclaughlin… […]

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  2. […] a comment » Two weeks ago, I reviewed Between Movement and Establishment, an institutional analysis of youth advocacy groups. My big complaint was that institutional […]

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  3. oprah also makes some good book reviews, i always wait for the book reviews of oprah ~:~

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    Optocoupler

    November 24, 2010 at 7:43 pm

  4. […] Between Movement and Establishment by Milbrey McLaughlin, W. Richard Scott, Sarah Deschenes, Katherine Hopkins, and Anne Newman […]

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