The Microrelations of Urban Governance: Dynamics of Patronage and Partnership1

Nicole P. Marwell, Delia Baldassarri, Erez Aharon Marantz

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    The classic urban ecological paradigm envisioned the articulation of the social organization of neighborhoods with that of the city as a whole. This article offers novel empirical evidence in support of this proposi-tion. We analyze the microrelations of governance across two key urban domains, politics and nonprofit organizations, and identify the district-based politician as a key actor linking neighborhood-based and citywide forms of social organization. Using data of contracts allocated by city council members to nonprofits in New York City, analysis of the social network system linking these two types of actors shows two distinct relational dynamics: a patronage dynamic characterized by exclusive and long-lasting relationships between a council member and his/her local constituency and a partnership dynamic characterized by citywide relationships that are short-lived and fostered by organizational differentia-tion and embeddedness. Furthermore, politicians and nonprofits differ-ently accommodate the copresence of these two models of resource allocation.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)1559-1601
    Number of pages43
    JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
    Issue number6
    StatePublished - May 2020

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Sociology and Political Science


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