Jennifer Elizabeth Dodge

State University of New York, Albany
Rockefeller College

135 Western Avenue
Milne Hall 308
Albany, NY
12210 |  Visit Personal Website

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My research focuses on the role of nonprofit organizations in democratic governance. It explores the dynamic relationship between nonprofit organizations, government agencies, and corporations in collaborative governance arrangements and more contested arenas and venues. It explores different logics or systems of thought (such as "environmental justice" discourse or "deliberative democracy" ideals) and the practices of nonprofit and public leaders, particularly in the contexts of public deliberation, public policy making and democratic governance. My research has focused on these dynamics in environmental policymaking, and poverty policy. Most recently, I've been studying the politics of hydraulic fracturing, and have been working with an international network of scholars to understand the policy dynamics related to fracking in diverse countries.

Dodge, Jennifer. Forthcoming. "Tensions in Deliberative Practice: A View from Civil Society." Critical Policy Studies.
Dodge, J. 2014. "Civil Society Organizations and Deliberative Policy-Making: Interpreting Environmental Controversies in the Deliberative System." Policy Sciences 47:161–185.
Abstract: This paper argues that while research on deliberative democracy is burgeoning, there is relatively little attention paid to the contributions of civil society. Based on an interpretive conceptualization of deliberative democracy, this paper draws attention to the ways in which civil society organizations employ ‘‘storylines’’ about environmental issues and deliberative processes to shape deliberative policy making. It asks, how do civil society organizations promote storylines in the deliberative system to change policy? How do storylines constitute policy and policy-making processes in the deliberative system? I answer these questions through an empirical analysis of two environmental controversies in the USA: environmental justice in New Mexico and coalbed methane development in Wyoming. Findings indicate that civil society organizations used storylines in both cases to shift the dynamics of the deliberative system and to advance their own interpretations of environmental problems and policy-making processes. Specifically, they used storylines (1) to set the agenda on environmental hazards, (2) to construct the form of public deliberation, changing the rules of the game, (3) to construct the content of public deliberation, shaping meanings related to environmental policy, and (4) to couple/align forums, arenas and courts across the system. These findings suggest that promoting storylines through accommodation and selection processes can be an important mechanism for shaping policy meanings and for improving deliberative quality, although these effects are tempered by discursive and material forms of power, and the competition among alternative storylines.
DOI: 10.1007/s11077-014-9200-y
Dodge, J. and Ospina, S. 2015. "Developing Advocates for Change: A Practice Approach to Understanding Associations as 'Schools of Democracy'.” Nonprofit and Voluntary Sector Quarterly 1-22.
Abstract: This article presents a comparative case study of two nonprofit organizations that do community organizing in the environmental field and asks how do nonprofits school citizens in democracy? Although the literature suggests the importance of social capital, a practice approach surfaces important political dimensions that have not been sufficiently explored. We find that distinct organizational practices create contexts for participants to exercise specific ways of being and doing—called “subject positions”—vis-à-vis the state and their political community. These practices support member participation by serving to construct “citizens”—rather than customers or clients—who develop skills in critical thinking and who exercise agency in the organization and the policy field they seek to influence. These practices represent key mechanisms for schooling citizens in democracy in these nonprofit organizations and link participation in the organization with broader political participation. We discuss implications for theory and practice.
DOI: 10.1177/0899764015584063.
Dodge, J. 2015. "The Deliberative Potential of Civil Society Organizations: Framing Hydraulic Fracturing in New York." Policy Studies 36 (3):249-266.
Abstract: Civil society organizations play myriad roles in democracies. Scholars are beginning to pay more attention to their deliberative potential, rethinking whether or not and how they may broaden and enrich public deliberation. Drawing on a discursive approach to deliberative democracy that focuses on interpretive practices, this article analyzes the deliberative potential of a range of civil society organizations in the controversy over hydraulic fracturing in New York State in the USA. It finds that civil society organizations compete to frame hydraulic fracturing as environmental risk, landowner rights, economic opportunity and/or clean energy. The lack of a shared frame has resulted in political gridlock. On the surface the gridlock appears dysfunctional, but may have enhanced deliberative democracy by highlighting ‘frontiers of disagreement’ in the case. In addition, two distinct rhetorical spaces have begun to emerge with potential to resolve these conflicts but with different effects: one focusing on negotiating regulations and the other on developing a local vision of economic and energy development. The influence of these spaces – and thus civil society actors – has been uneven affecting who becomes part of the official conversation. This analysis contributes to deliberative democracy scholarship by clarifying what I call a discursive function of deliberative democracy, and how it reveals the relationships between conflict and reflexivity in public deliberation.
URL: http://
DOI: 10.1080/01442872.2015.1065967
Dodge, Jennifer, Sonia M. Ospina, and Erica Gabrielle Foldy. 2005. "Integrating Rigor and Relevance in Public Administration Scholarship: The Contribution of Narrative Inquiry." Public Administration Review 65 (3):286-300.
Dodge, Jennifer. 2009. "Environmental Justice and Deliberative Democracy: How Civil Society Organizations Respond to Power in the Deliberative System." Policy & Society: Special Issue Deliberative Governance in the Context of Power 28 (3):225-239.

Substantive Focus:
Energy and Natural Resource Policy
Environmental Policy SECONDARY
Governance PRIMARY
Science and Technology Policy
Social Policy

Theoretical Focus:
Policy Process Theory PRIMARY
Policy Analysis and Evaluation SECONDARY