query: difference between coalitions and partnerships

Discussion list for COMM-ORG colist at comm-org.wisc.edu
Sun Nov 18 12:16:02 CST 2007


[ed:  thanks to Chris for continuing the discussion]

From: "Chris Cavanagh" <story at web.ca>


Very interesting discussion, folks,

i thought i'd just add a couple of things i haven't seen in the 
discussion yet.

1. Recognizing that part of this discussion is based on "what's out 
there in the world", what we're talking about is an analytical model of 
some kind. And, has been pointed out, there isn't a ready-made one that 
we can refer to. Both "coalition" and "partnership" have both common 
sense and more formalized definitions and, in the case of "partnership" 
there are legally regulated definitions (not sure that that's the case 
for coalition). As for what common sense is all about, i'm a total 
gramscian, which is to say that common sense is that troublesome blend 
of good sense, bad sense and nonsense. The "coalition of the willing" is 
a good example of a "bad sense" use of the term. "National Coalition for 
the Homeless" is a good sense use. So, to the originator of this 
discussion, kevboy, i guess i'm saying that you have to propose your own 
model to some extent and assert what you want "coalition" to signify in 
your work.

2. something not discussed so far is the political-economic (or class)  
context for the terms. Specifically, "partnership" is used in both 
private sector (i.e. capitalist) contexts and voluntary (social 
movements, etc.) sectors, while I'm not sure there is such common use of 
coalition across sectors in this way. It is generally used in 
governmental and social movement contexts and is usually aimed at 
changing (or defending) various pieces of public policy, social 
consensus or public opinion. I think much social movement literature 
rightly focuses on social justice coalitions. And thus the term might 
have a vaguely social-justice-y common sense feel to it. But, of course, 
there are coalitions that are about anything but social justice. And on 
a loftier theoretical terrain there is the gramscian notion of 
conceptualizing the often simplistically understood "ruling class" as a 
"coalition of ruling class interests". A perspective i find useful in 
looking for strategic and tactical alliances. (I'm not sure who i owe 
that term to, whether gramsci used it himself or whether i picked it up 
from Herbert Gans, Todd Gitlin, Carl Boggs, et al - apologies for 
amnesiacal appropriation ;-) )

(nice to see your name pop up Amanda - i hope your work goes well).

peace

chris cavanagh
> --------
>  
> [ed:  thanks to Warren for replying to Kevboy's query.]
>
> From:
> "Warren Nelson" <wnelson at nhsbaltimore.com>
>
>
> A coalition is generally organized by a particular group and that group
> generally runs the coalition and, coalitions are generally organized for
> a particular purpose.  On the other hand, partnerships are generally
> equal in their relationships and there is mutual agreement. For example,
> here in Baltimore, MD there is a Coalition Against the Baltimore Gas &
> Electric Rate Hike.  An organization organized the coalition to add
> numbers and other organizations.  Whereas, Neighborhood Housing Services
> of Baltimore has partnerships with banks, other housing organizations
> and the city gov't itself.  Sometimes NHS works alone & sometimes they
> work with partners.  There are things NHS does that the partners don't
> do and referrals are made to the partner(s) and vice-versa.  Hope that's
> helpful.
>
> Warren
>
> Discussion list for COMM-ORG wrote:
>   
>> --------
>> This is a COMM-ORG 'colist' message.
>> All replies to this message come to COMM-ORG only.
>> --------
>>  
>> [ed:  please feel welcomed to copy COMM-ORG with responses to Kevboy's 
>> query.]
>>
>> From:     anil kumar <kevboy_anil at yahoo.com>
>>
>> Hi,
>> i am a graduate student in Public Health and i am in Community 
>> Organizing class and doing a project in this class. One of the 
>> assignments in this class asked specifically about the structural or 
>> functional differences between the "coalitions and partnerships and 
>> their role in community organizing". I couldn't find any source which 
>> specifically  differentiates these two, hence i thought you people might 
>> be of some help. Reason being i always visit this discussion thread and 
>> found some useful stuff over here for my class.
>>
>> Thank you in advance.
>> kevboy.
>>
>>
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