Theses Doctoral

Brokering Freedom: An Organizational Case Study of Reentry Organizations

Ajunwa, Ifeoma Yvonne

This dissertation employs an organizational approach to examine how reentry organizations seek to provide social value as public-private partnerships with the mission statement of aiding the reintegration of the formerly incarcerated. With the help of a case study of a reentry organization in Cleveland, Ohio, I examine the sociological significance of the discursive “brokerage metaphor” of reentry organizations as brokers of the social and cultural capital the formerly incarcerated require as catalysts for their reintegration back into society.
Based on ethnographic data and in-depth field interviews collected over a period of 16 months in Cleveland, Ohio, my research finds that the “brokerage metaphor” for reentry elides important factors which play an integral role in the organizational behavior of reentry organizations and the sociological experience of reentry for the formerly incarcerated. These other factors notably include the competitive and regulatory organizational environment of the reentry organization, and the intersectional identities of formerly incarcerated women. These external factors reveal the paradox of the public-private partnership represented by the reentry organization wherein some obstacles that stymie the objectives of the reentry organization might be attributed to its public partner, the government. Furthermore, my research finds that besides the brokerage of social and cultural capital, reentry organizations as public-private partnerships provide other tangible benefits for achieving the reentry of the formerly incarcerated, such as a remove from the carceral continuum that invites participation and creates the space for community-building.
This dissertation research advances a new direction for the study of public-private partnerships wherein the lens of inquiry is not merely on the private partner, rather, the spotlight is also trained on the external impediments that prevent the organization from achieving full social value. This direction for research bodes well for determining appropriate and effective ethical policy interventions to addressing pressing social problems through public-private partnerships and social enterprise.


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Whitford, Josh
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 30, 2017