Michelle Oyakawa is a recipient of the 2018 Distinguished Contribution to Scholarship Dissertation Award by the Collective Behavior and Social Movements (CBSM) Section of the American Sociological Association.
In her dissertation “Building A Movement In The Non-Profit Industrial Complex,” Oyakawa critically and ambitiously analyzes the influence external funding agents have over the kinds of strategies non-profits employ. Oyakawa examines how many non-profit organizations pursue populist agendas, in which the needs of the people are prioritized over elites, while still being held accountable to funding agents (e.g., philanthropic organizations) that favor elite experience when deciding what goals to pursue. Utilizing a multi-methods approach that focuses on the Ohio Organizing Collaborative (OOC)-- which is a non-profit, grassroots organization-- she explores how non-profit organizations with populist agendas navigate this complex relationship with funders to achieve positive social change for their communities. Based on her fieldwork, she argues that non-profit organizations are often forced to make concessions to the demands of funders, whose agendas rarely reflect the concerns of marginalized communities and, as a result, are undermining social and political equity. For a more in-depth look into her study, we encourage you to read the Fall 2018 Critical Mass Bulletin-- the newsletter for the CBSM section of the American Sociological Association.