The microrelations of urban governance: dynamics of patronage and partnership

Nicole P. Marwell*, Delia Baldassarri, Erez Aharon Marantz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


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 proposition. We analyze the micro relations 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 differentiation and embeddedness. Furthermore, politicians and nonprofits differently accommodate the copresence of these two models of resource allocation.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1513-1558
Number of pages46
JournalAmerican Journal of Sociology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1 May 2020


FundersFunder number
National Science Foundation Science of Organizations Program1359677
National Science Foundation135970


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