Lichterman studies how and why people get involved in citizen advocacy and volunteering. His close-up, observational research has investigated environmental, gay rights and housing justice advocacy organizations, community service efforts and non-profit organizations that develop affordable housing. He also studies the political and civic roles of religious organizations. Paul’s observational research focuses a lot on the styles of working together and developing goals together that he sees in the advocacy and community service organizations he studies. He shares his findings with these organizations, encouraging members to reflect on what they affirm or would like to change about the ways they define issues, generate campaigns and create group cohesiveness.
Examines how a housing coalition previously uninvolved in health issues crafted appeals in a health-related campaign to prevent a local hospital’s demolition. Uses participant observation and archival evidence to identify dominant arguments and limits to the coalition’s rhetorical capabilities.