POL S 586 A: Topics In International Political Economy

Meeting Time: 
T 1:30pm - 4:20pm
SMI 309
Prof. Aseem Prakash
Aseem Prakash

Syllabus Description:

January 7, 2019


NGO Politics

POL S 586 A

Winter 2019


Instructor:             Aseem Prakash (https://faculty.washington.edu/aseem/)

Class Time:          Thursday, 1:30-4:20 p.m.

Class Location:   Rait 109

Office Hours:       By appointment


Course Objective

Non‑governmental, non-profit organizations (NGNPOs) have emerged as important actors in local, national, and international politics. As units of collective action, they advocate policy positions and produce collective goods. They are often viewed as crucial building blocks for democracy and economic growth. NGNPOs compete and cooperate with governments and with firms.  Importantly, they compete and cooperate with one another for membership, external funding, and media attention. Like firms and governments, NGNPOs suffer from principal-agent problems and develop, with varying levels of success, governance mechanisms to mitigate such problems. Although they are termed as ‘non-governmental’ organizations, many of them rely on governments for much of their funding. And, some NGNPOs have highly questionable and normatively inappropriate goals. In sum, there is a scholarly need to systematically examine NGNPOs as units of collective action, and answer key questions such as under what conditions they emerge, how they structure their organization, how they function, and how they influence public and corporate policy.


Several literatures study the advocacy and collective good provision functions of NGNPOs. These are:

  • the NGO politics and civil society literatures in political science,
  • the social movement literature in sociology, and
  • the non‑profit (NP) literature in public policy/administration/management.


This doctoral seminar will investigate key theoretical and empirical issues raised in these literatures pertaining to NGNPO goals, strategy, politics, and efficacy. We will focus on topics that are theoretically and empirically interesting, and have attracted scholarly attention. I hope this seminar will help you synthesize various NGNPO literatures and develop ideas for research papers, research grants, and/or your dissertation.  




Aseem Prakash and Mary Kay Gugerty. Editors. 2010. Advocacy Organizations and Collective Action. 2010. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press.

You can access the e-book via UW library system



All articles will be made available on Canvas


Course Expectations

This doctoral seminar requires active student participation. You are expected to energetically and thoughtfully contribute to class discussions and to the collective learning processes.


For every session, students will present and critique the assigned articles. The discussant/presenter is expected to prepare a two-page (single-spaced) summary and critique of the article, and email it to the class by Thursday, 9:00 am.


How to structure your article memo? Assume a prominent journal has requested you to review the assigned article. Share your evaluation of the article with the class. The discussant-presenter should budget about 10-15 minutes for the in-class presentation. To minimize transaction costs, I will assign articles.


Class Participation

To have a meaningful discussion, please review all readings prior to the class. Those not assigned to present any reading should email a 2-3 discussion questions. This one page “Discussion Questions” memo should reach me by Thursday, 9:00 am. Please provide short discussion on how your questions relate to the theoretical or empirical issues raised in the assigned readings. I encourage you to relate these readings to articles/books you may have reviewed in other seminars. As scholars you must cumulate knowledge: drawing connections with readings in different seminars is therefore a valuable exercise.


Research Proposal

A five page (single-spaced) research proposal is due towards the end of the course. Treat this as a first cut for a grant proposal or your MA/PhD proposal. One page proposal outline is due February 21. The final proposal is due March 14. The research proposal could be structured as follows:


Research Puzzle:       What is the central issue you want to study and why is it theoretically important? It might be helpful to identify your dependent variable(s), independent variable(s), and the logic connecting the two.


Research Context:    How does your topic speak to the environmental governance literature? What are relevant concepts or models? What are the research contributions?


Research Design:      What is the appropriate research strategy to examine your research puzzle? What are your hypotheses? Are they falsifiable? What are your data requirements? How would you analyze and interpret the data?


Contributions:          What new theoretical insights your research is expected to provide? What are the implications for future research?



Article Memos:                   30 points

Key Questions:                   20 points

Term paper:                       30 points

Class Participation:              20 points

Total:                                100 points  


Class Schedule

Session 1, January 10

The Civil Society Debate

  • Skocpol, Ganz, and Munson. 2000. A nation of organizers. American Political Science Review, 94(3): 527-546.
  • 1952. The two democratic traditions. The Philosophical Review, 61(4): 451-474.
  • 1998. Bowling together, bowling alone: The development of generalized trust in voluntary associations. Political Psychology, 497-525.
  • Bromley and Meyer. 2017. “They are all organizations”: The cultural roots of lurring between the nonprofit, business, and government sectors. Administration & Society, 49(7), 939-966.
  • Chambers and Kopstein. 2001. Bad civil society. Political Theory29(6), 837-865.


 Session 2, January 17

NGOs and Nonprofits: An Overview

  • 1969. An exchange theory of interest groups. Midwest Journal of Political Science, 13(1): 1-32;
  • Mueller and Opp. 1986. Rational choice and rebellious collective action. American Political Science Review, 80: 471-504.
  • Sell and Prakash. 2004. Using ideas strategically: Examining the contest between business and NGO networks in intellectual property rights. International Studies Quarterly, 48(1): 143-175.
  • Clarke and Estes. 1992. Sociological and economic theories of markets and nonprofits: Evidence from home health organizations. American Journal of Sociology97(4), 945-969.
  • Coffé and Geys. 2007. Toward an empirical characterization of bridging and bonding social capital. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 36(1), 121-139.


Session 3, January 24

Civic Action in World Politics

  • Kim and Kim. 2018. What accounts for the variations in nonprofit growth? A cross-national panel study. Voluntas, 29(3), 481-495.
  • Ahmad. 2007. The careers of NGOs field-workers in Bangladesh. Nonprofit Management & Leadership. 17(3). 349-365.
  • 2006. A view from the top: International politics, norms, and the worldwide growth of NGOs. International Studies Quarterly, 50: 45-57.
  • 2014. False commitments: Local misrepresentation and the international norms against female genital mutilation and early marriage. International Organization, 68, 495-526.
  • Dupuy et al., 2016. Hands Off My Regime! Governments’ Restrictions on Foreign Aid to Non-Governmental Organizations in Poor and Middle-Income Countries. World Development, 84 (August): 299–311.


Session 4, January 31

Advocacy Strategies

  • 1983. Tactical innovation and the pace of insurgency. American Sociological Review, 48: 735-54.
  • Ron, Ramos, and Rodgers. 2005. Transnational informational oolitics: NGO human rights reporting. International Studies Quarterly, 49: 557-587.
  • 2007. Setting the advocacy agenda: Theorizing issue emergence and nonemergence in transnational advocacy networks. International Studies Quarterly51(1), 99-120.
  • Guo and Saxton. 2018. Speaking and being heard: How nonprofit advocacy organizations gain attention on social media. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 47(1), 5-26.
  • Arvidson, Johansson, and Scaramuzzino. 2018. Advocacy compromised: How financial, organizational and institutional factors shape advocacy strategies of civil society organizations. Voluntas. 29(4), 844-856.


Session 5, February 7

Advocacy Organizations and Collective Action

  • Prakash and Gugerty, Editors. 2010. Advocacy Organizations and Collective Action.  Cambridge University Press.

Chapter 1 (Prakash & Gugerty), Chapters 2 (Bob), Chapter 3 (Gill and Pfaff), Chapter 6 (Barakaso), Chpater 7 (Pralle), and Chapter 8 (Ron and Cooley),


Session 6, February 14

Social Movements -1


Research Proposal Outline due

Session 7, February 21

Social Movements -2

  • Walker, Martin, and McCarthy. 2008. Confronting the state, the corporation, and the academy: The influence of institutional targets on social movement repertoires. American journal of Sociology. 114(1): 35–76.
  • Soule and King. 2008. Competition and resource partitioning in three social movement industries. American Journal of Sociology. 113(6): 1568–610.
  • Koopmans and Olzak. 2004. Discursive opportunities and the evolution of right-wing violence in Germany. American Journal of Sociology, 110 (1): 198-230.
  • Sampson, McAdam, MacIndoe, and Elizondo, 2005. Civil society reconsidered. American Journal of Sociology, 111(3): 673-714.
  • Andrews, Ganz, Baggetta, Han, and Lim. 2010. Leadership, membership, and voice: Civic associations that work. American Journal of Sociology115(4), 1191-1242.


Session 8, February 28


  • Ostrander. 2007 The growth of donor control: Revisiting the social relations of philanthropy. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly. 36: 356
  • Bielefeld and Cleveland. 2013. Faith-based organizations as service providers and their relationship to government. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 42(3): 468-494.
  • Moseley, James, John, Richardson, Ryan, and Stoker. 2018. The effects of social information on volunteering: a field experiment. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 47(3), 583-603.
  • Einolf. 2018. Parents’ charitable giving and volunteering: Are they influenced by their children’s ages and life transitions? Evidence from a longitudinal study in the United States. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 47(2), 395-416.
  • Tremblay-Boire and Prakash. 2019. Biased altruism? Islamophobia and donor support for global humanitarian organizations. Public Administration Review, forthcoming.


Session 9, March 7

Social Capital and Volunteering

  • 1988. Social capital in the creation of human capital. American Journal of Sociology, 94, pp.S95-S120.
  • Granovetter, 1973. The strength of weak ties. American Journal of Sociology78, 1360-1380.
  • Wollebaek and Selle. 2002. Does participation in voluntary associations contribute to social capital? Non-Profit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 31(1): 32-61.
  • McFarland and Thomas.2006. Bowling young: How youth voluntary associations influence adult political participation. American Sociological Review, 71(3): 401-425.
  • Schwingel, eran-Garcia, McCaffrey, Gálvez, and Hawn. 2017. More than help? volunteerism in US Latino culture. Voluntas. 28(1): 162–183.


Research Proposal turned in

Session 10, March 14


  • Ebrahim, 2005, Accountability myopia: Losing sight of organizational learning. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 34(1): 56-87.
  • McDonnel and Rutherford. 2018. The determinants of charity misconduct. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 47(1): 107–125.
  • Willems, Waldner, Dere, Matsuo, and Högy. 2017. The role of formal third-party endorsements and informal self-proclaiming signals in nonprofit reputation building. Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly, 46(5), 1092–1105.
  • Pope, Bromley, Lim, and Meyer. 2018. The pyramid of nonprofit responsibility. Voluntas, 29(6), 1300-1314.
  • Tremblay-Boire, Prakash, and Gugerty. 2016. Regulation by reputation: Monitoring and sanctioning in nonprofit accountability clubs. Public Administration Review, 2016, 76(5): 712-722.


Catalog Description: 
Examination of current topics in the theory and practice of international political economy. Content varies according to recent developments in the field and research interests of the instructor.
Last updated: 
January 10, 2018 - 9:45pm