Bringing Organizations Back In: Multilevel Feedback Effects on Individual Civic Inclusion
Policy feedback scholarship has focused on how laws and their implementation affect either organizations (e.g., their resources, priorities, political opportunities, or incentive structures) or individuals (e.g., their civic skills and resources or their psychological orientations toward the state). However, in practice the distinction between organizations and individuals is not clear-cut: Organizations interpret policy for individuals, and individuals experience policy through organizations. Thus, scholars have argued for a multi-level model of feedback effects illuminating how policies operating at the organizational level reverberate at the individual level. In this theory-building article, we push this insight by examining how public policy influences nonprofit organizations’ role in the civic life of beneficiaries. We identify five roles that nonprofit organizations play. For each role, we draw on existing research to identify policy mechanisms that either enlarge or diminish nonprofits’ capacity to facilitate individual incorporation and engagement. From these examples, we derive cross-cutting hypotheses concerning how different categories of citizens may need policy to operate differently to enhance their civic influence; whether policy that is “delivered” through nonprofits may dampen citizens’ relationship with the state; and how the civic boost provided by policy may be influenced by the degree of latitude conferred on recipient organizations.
Goss, KA; Barnes, C; Rose, D
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