Public Engagement

General Public

NSSR Sociology Lecture: John Krinsky (City College of New York)

Monday, November 13, 2017 at 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm

Wolff Conference Room, Room D1103, Albert and Vera List Academic Center, D1103 6 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003, Room D1103

The Department of Sociology at The New School for Social Research welcomes John Krinsky (City College of New York) with his lecture entitled "Who Cleans the Park: Public Work and Neoliberal Discourses of Reciprocity." 

John Krinsky teaches political science at the City College of New York and the CUNY Graduate Center. He holds a doctorate in sociology and a master's in urban planning from Columbia University, and is on the editorial boards of Social Movement Studies and the online urban affairs journal, Metropolitics. He is the author and editor of several books, including Free Labor: Workfare and the Contested Language of Neoliberalism and, with Maud Simonet, Who Cleans the Park? Public Work and Urban Governance in New York City, and is a founding member of the New York City Community Land Initiative. 

In Who Cleans the Park? John Krinsky and Maud Simonet ask what happens when public work is no longer done primarily by public workers. Through an investigation of New York City's parks, they explain that the work of maintaining parks has intersected with broader trends in welfare reform, civic engagement, criminal justice, and the rise of public-private partnerships. Welfare-to-work trainees, volunteers, unionized city workers (sometimes working outside their official job descriptions), staff of nonprofit park “conservancies,” and people sentenced to community service are just a few of the groups who routinely maintain parks. Thus, the nature of public work must be reevaluated. Based on four years of fieldwork in New York City, Who Cleans the Park? looks at the transformation of public parks from the ground up. Beginning with studying changes in the workplace, progressing through the public-private partnerships that help maintain the parks, and culminating in an investigation of a park’s contribution to urban real-estate values, the book unearths a new urban order based on nonprofit partnerships and a rhetoric of responsible citizenship, which at the same time promotes unpaid work, reinforces workers’ domination at the workplace, and increases the value of park-side property. Who Cleans the Park? asks difficult questions about who benefits from public work, ultimately forcing us to think anew about the way we govern ourselves, with implications well beyond the five boroughs.

Presented by the Department of Sociology at The New School for Social Research.

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