The Department of Sociology Colloquium Series presents

"Funding Immigrant Organizations: Suburban Free-Riding and Local Civic Presence"
with Irene Bloemraad, Associate Professor of Sociology and Thomas Garden Barnes Chair of Canadian Studies, UC Berkeley

Friday, January 18, 2013
12:00-1:30 p.m.
Social Science Plaza B, Room 4206

Community-based organizations have been important providers of publicly-funded services to poor populations since the War on Poverty and they have long been at the heart of immigrant integration in traditional gateway cities. But given a "new geography" of poverty and immigration in the United States, how are newer immigrant gateway cities and suburbs responding to foreign-born residents, especially the disadvantaged? Existing research focuses on political exchange models to explain public-private partnerships: local officials make rational funding decisions to achieve political goals, and localities differ based on whether they are politically progressive or more conservative. This talk goes beyond political calculations to argue that taken-for-granted notions of deservingness and legitimacy affect funding, even in politically progressive places. Comparing a traditional immigrant gateway city, a 21st century gateway city, and two suburbs in the San Francisco Bay Area, Bloemraad uses Community Development Block Grant data and a database of formally registered nonprofit organizations to document significant inequality in resource allocation across these three types of destinations. To understand the mechanisms behind these inequalities, Bloemraad draws on documentary evidence and 142 interviews with local government officials and leaders of community-based organizations. She outlines how a history of continuous migration builds norms of inclusion and civic capacity for public-private partnerships. She also identifies the phenomenon of "suburban free-riding" to explain how and why suburban officials rely on central city resources to serve immigrants, but do not build and fund partnerships with immigrant organizations in their own jurisdictions. The analysis affirms the importance of distinguishing between types of immigrant destinations, but argues that this should be done through a regional lens, as proximity to central cities provides even progressive suburban officials with opportunities for free-riding.

For further information, please contact Ekua Arhin, 949-824-6800 or

connect with us


© UC Irvine School of Social Sciences - 3151 Social Sciences Plaza, Irvine, CA 92697-5100 - 949.824.2766