Clark’s research focuses on social movements, public administration, 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 national coalition in the anti-human trafficking field. Her recent work has focused on social equity in local public administration, including examining how austerity policies impacted U.S. COVID-19 policy.
Words and symbols shape how the public understands, responds to, and navigates our new normal amid the COVID-19 pandemic; this framing shapes our collective understanding of who or what is valued. Austerity politics at all levels of government has not only helped to create a patchwork system of crisis response, but also explains the variation in framing of the pandemic response as tradeoffs among competing values (e.g., equity versus economy; us versus other; health versus business).
Notes 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. Finds that grassroots organizations and high-capacity nonprofits differed in their responses to the crisis due to their place in the power hierarchy and framed their responses by using different causal stories.
Examines the framing strategies of a prominent social movement coalition in the anti-human trafficking field. Finds that the organizational structure of the coalition helped members learn new tactics to fight both sex and labor trafficking in innovative ways.
Notes the rise of Black Lives Matter (BLM), as an intentionally intersectional movement, challenges one to consider the ways in which BLM is reimagining the lines of Black activism and the Black Liberation Movement. Notes the founders of BLM are intentionally inclusive of all Black lives no matter their gender, criminal status, immigration status, age or sexual orientation.
Notes 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. Shows 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.