Overcoming persistent poverty and growing inequality in the US has long presented political and practical challenges, even as large portions of the population are left at the margins of society. Policy makers continue to wrestle with conflicting views about the causes of poverty and where responsibility lies. A history of difficulties in implementing anti-poverty policy further complicates efforts to address problems of those left behind.
Evelyn Brodkin, associate professor at the School of Social Service Administration and a scholar of public policy and management, examines the history, experiences, and contradictions of U.S. efforts to address poverty and inequality. Her research addresses two major concerns: the dynamics of political conflicts over what social policy should be and the challenges of social policy delivery by human services organizations. Her research investigates conflicts over poverty policy, how organizations turn formal policy into street-level practice, and the consequences of these practices for policy, politics, and the poor.
In recent work, carried out in collaboration with the Sargent Shriver National Center on Poverty Law and the Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago, Brodkin investigated practices that have prevented lower-income Chicago residents from getting help through social safety net programs, such as Temporary Assistance to Needy Families, food stamps and Medicaid. She now is looking at problems of access and administrative inequality at a national level.
Brodkin is co-director of the Project on the Public Economy of Work (SSA's Susan Lambert is the other co-director), which studies how changes in welfare policy and workplaces affect opportunities for those at the margins of the economy. As part of this project, Brodkin has examined the political dynamics leading to welfare reform and how public and private agencies put into practice welfare-to-work policies that are supposed to address poverty by bringing disadvantaged adults into the economic mainstream. This research directs attention to ways in which organizations informally affect opportunities for social and economic inclusion and raises questions about the consequences of welfare reform. The Project has received support from the National Science Foundation, the Ford Foundation, and the Open Society Institute.
In research that has implications in the US and abroad, Brodkin is studying the influence of new public management strategies, including contracting and performance measurement, on the practices of human services organizations. This research, which identifies broad concerns about new governance arrangements shaping social welfare policy delivery, has led to international collaborations. Brodkin is on the steering committee of Resq, an international research network studying changes in social assistance and employment services in the U.S., Europe, and Australia.
Beyond its impact on social policy scholarship, Brodkin's work has contributed to advocacy, policymaking, and practice in social policy and management. She has been invited to speak on her welfare policy research in Sweden, the Netherlands, Germany, Australia, and Denmark. She recently presented her research on access to benefits and administrative inequality to a conference of state and federal practitioners, sponsored by the Department of Health and Human Services. Brodkin's research and expert views on welfare policy and practices have reached a general audience through collaboration with legal advocacy groups in Chicago, media coverage (including National Public Radio and Univision), public speaking, and newspaper and magazine opinion pieces.
Evelyn Z. Brodkin is an Associate Professor in the School of Social Service Administration and Lecturer in the Law School at the University of Chicago. In addition, she is a Faculty Affiliate at the Northwestern University/University of Chicago's Joint Center for Poverty Research, a national and interdisciplinary academic research center that seeks to advance understanding of what it means to be poor in America. Her fields of special interest include social politics, poverty policy, politics of the welfare state, and street-level bureaucracy.
Professor Brodkin's current research investigates changes in the American welfare state and, specifically, how public policies and institutions are reshaping the politics of poverty and social inclusion. She is co-director of the Project on the Public Economy of Work that aims to explain how welfare law and the structure of lower-wage work are creating a new public economy of work. The project, situated in Chicago, examines how evolving organizational arrangements and bureaucratic practices are shaping this new public economy in the context of concentrated urban poverty. In addition, Professor Brodkin is on the steering committee of RESq (International Research Network on Reform of Employment Services), which brings together researchers from Europe, U.S., and Australia to develop and refine the comparative and theoretical study of policy and service reforms in selected OECD-countries and the U.S.
Professor Brodkin received her Ph.D. in Political Science from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, an M.P.A. with honors from Northeastern University, and a B.S. with honors in Journalism from Boston University. She recently received the Herbert Kaufman Award for the best paper in public administration by the American Political Science Association. She also was named a Fellow of the Open Society Institute by the Soros Foundation and is recipient of numerous research grants.
Prior to joining the faculty of the University of Chicago, Professor Brodkin was a Post-Doctoral Fellow at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government and Interdisciplinary Program in Health and Assistant Professor of political science at the State University of New York at Stony Brook. Ms. Brodkin has been a Visiting Professor at the Australian National University, a Visiting Scholar at Northwestern University's Institute for Policy Research, and Lecturer at Universidad Iberoamericana. Among her other professional activities, she has served on the Policy Council of the Association for Public Policy Analysis and Management, the board of directors of the Chicago Jobs Council, and the editorial boards of Social Service Review and the Journal of Public Administration Research and Theory.
969 E 60th St
Chicago IL 60637