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Amanda Clark, Ph.D.

Kent State University

Country: United States (Florida)

About Me:

Amanda D. Clark, PhD, is currently researching social movements, community development, and the U.S. policy process. Her work has examined the framing strategies of social movements including Black Lives Matter, the nonprofit community in Flint, MI in response to the water crisis, and a prominent U.S. anti-human trafficking coalition. Dr. Clark has also published co-authored book chapters on the nonviolent dynamics of the 1960 Nashville student sit-in campaign and on community control in local organizing and development policy. Her recent articles have been published in academic outlets including Research in Social Movements, Conflicts and Change, Urban Affairs Review, and International Area Studies Review.

Research Interests

Public Policy


Political Participation


Political Economy

Specific Areas of Interest

Social Movements

Political Framing


Journal Articles:

(2019) How Municipal Takeovers Reshape Urban Democracy: Comparing the Experiences of Camden, NJ and Flint, MI, Urban Affairs Review

Tags: Public Policy, Urban Politics, Nonprofits

Nickels, Ashley E., Amanda D. Clark, and Zachary D. Wood. Municipal takeovers are a state policy ostensibly designed to address urban fiscal crises by “temporarily” taking over local government, suspending local control, and implementing sweeping austerity measures. Although framed as “apolitical,” takeovers have the capacity to reshape local democracy. These changes radically rearrange how decisions are made, who has access to decision makers, and, ultimately, who is in power. Using a policy-centered approach, we compare the cases of Camden, New Jersey and Flint, Michigan, illustrating how variations in policy design and localized implementation reshaped the local political landscape in different ways. While the Camden takeover institutionalized the emergent “community development regime,” Flints’ grassroots activists and community-based organizations destabilized the emergent regime.

(2019) Framing the Flint Water Crisis: Interrogating Local Nonprofit Sector Responses, Administrative Theory & Praxis

Tags: Nonprofits, NGOs

with Ashley E. Nickels The Flint Water Crisis captured the attention of the world in January 2016 when both the state and federal governments declared a public health emergency in Flint, MI. Building on framing theory, we look to both the theory of casual stories and critical intersectionality to explain both how and why local grassroots associations (GAs) and high-capacity nonprofits (HCNPs) differed in their rhetorical responses to the crisis. Interviews, speeches, and op-eds published from both groups between May 2014 and May 2017 were analyzed using qualitative content analysis. We find that, while all spoke in terms of helping the community recover from the crisis, the narratives surrounding the crisis unfolded along two distinct paths—one focusing on the technical responses and moving forward, while the other focused on identifying root causes and calling for intersectional solutions.

(2018) Black Lives Matter: (Re)Framing the Next Wave of Black Liberation, Research in Social Movements Conflicts and Change

with: Prentiss A. Dantzler and Ashley E. Nickels The rise of Black Lives Matter (BLM), as an intentionally intersectional movement, challenges us to consider the ways in which BLM is reimagining the lines of Black activism and the Black Liberation Movement. BLM may be considered the “next wave” of the Civil rights movement, guiding how and with whom the movement will progress. We use a content analysis of public statements and interviews of the founding members from October 2014-October 2016 to discuss the ways in which the founders of BLM frame the group’s actions. We bring together the critical feminist concept of intersectionality with framing theory to show how the founders of BLM have strategically framed the movement as one that honors past Black Liberation struggles, but transforms traditional framing of those struggles to include all Black lives inclusive of differences based on gender, sexual orientation, age, nationality, or criminal status.

(2018) The Perfect Storm: The Impact of Disaster Severity on Internal Human Trafficking, International Area Studies Review

with Anuj Gurung In this paper, we argue natural disasters have a positive association with the likelihood of internal or domestic trafficking. Trafficking is a function of individual vulnerability and subsequent criminal agency. Economic scarcity and lack of government protection are conditions of vulnerability that are exploited by criminal agents and networks in recruiting and transporting victims. The advent of natural disasters exacerbates these conditions and provides an opportunity for criminals. We argue that internal trafficking is more likely in the wake of disasters as routes to transnational trafficking may be inaccessible. Employing generalized estimation equations on a unique cross-section, time-series dataset of 158 countries, between 2001 and 2011, we find a consistent positive link between natural disasters and the likelihood of internal trafficking. The internal trafficking angle is under-studied, and our findings point at the need for further exploration of the topic.

Books Written:

(2019) Framing the Fight Against Human Trafficking: Movement Coalitions and Tactical Diffusion, Lexington Books

Tags: NGOs, Public Policy

Nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) in the anti–human trafficking movement have proliferated over the past few decades; many of these NGOs have joined coalitions to pool resources and expertise. How do changes in the external political environment or the internal coalition structure impact NGO framing strategy? Framing the fight Against Human Trafficking: Movement Coalitions and Tactical Diffusion uses a unique dataset to analyze the discursive processes of fifteen U.S. anti-trafficking NGOs involved in the Alliance to End Slavery and Trafficking (ATEST) from 2008-2014. This analysis shows that ATEST has targeted the state (contentious politics) and private industry (private politics) to advance its agenda. Sex trafficking has normally been met with tactics from the contentious politics model due to its historical legal connection with prostitution; labor trafficking, conversely, has been approached via the private politics model due to its connection with business. However, the coalition’s formal organizational structure has enabled members to learn from each other and apply these models in innovative ways. This study builds theory by showing how learning in social movement coalitions can diffuse tactics and provide new action repertoires for members.

Book Chapters:

(2018) Calling for Community Control: Local Organizing and Implications for Community Development Policy, Routledge

Co-author: Ashley E. Nickels The implementation of public policy has consequences, some unintended, most deliberate, that impact citizens in a variety of ways. Even when public officials have the best intentions, a backlash by community members often catches them off guard, indicating a lack of understanding of what citizens actually need. Many factors have attributed to this disconnect recently including the impact of globalization, the prevalence of neoliberalism, and a lack of transparency and accountability in government decision making. This environment has led many modern social movements to reclaim the community development mantra from the 1960s Black Power Movement by calling for community control. In this chapter, the authors argue that community control has become an important overarching master frame for many social movements, particularly those related to community development. The importance of the New Public Service (NPS) paradigm, which holds that government entities should not dictate policy solutions to citizens, but involve them in the planning process itself becomes evident as we examine the impact of backlash in policy regarding the use of public space, allocation of public goods and services and electoral representation.

(2015) Civil Rights, Social Movements, and Domestic Policy: The 1960 Nashville Student Sit-In Movement, Polity Press

with Patrick G. Coy The success of the 1960 Nashville Student Sit-In Movement in desegregating the city’s downtown lunch counters was an important event in both the history of the US Civil Rights movement and in the diffusion and progression of nonviolent action nationally and internationally. In the short span of about six months, previously inexperienced young students learned to push their agenda for equality, not through violence and anger, but through thoughtful and deliberate actions that claimed their power and appealed to the rationality of all involved. Those once inexperienced students would go on to lead a new generation of nonviolent activists in the Civil Rights movement and achieve great success along the way.We show that Nashville is a useful case for teaching strategic nonviolent action at the university level because of its short duration, its relatively clear stages, its emphasis on training and discipline, and the integral role played by students. More specifically, this paper applies an adapted version of Adam Curle’s conflict progression theory as a theoretical framework to the Nashville case, demonstrating its rich potential in helping students to think analytically about nonviolent campaigns.