Nickels's research centers on issues of power, social equity, and democratic participation in the fields of urban politics, nonprofit and community-based organizations, and public policy and administration. Her area of specialization is community development, broadly defined. Nickels's work is highly influenced by her years working in feminist community activism and commitment to a critical research practice.
No Jargon Podcast
In the News
Compares the cases of Camden, New Jersey and Flint, Michigan, using a policy-centered approach. Illustrates how variations in policy design and localized implementation reshaped the local political landscape in different ways. Discusses how, while the Camden takeover institutionalized the emergent "community development regime," Flint's grassroots activists and community-based organizations destabilized the emergent regime.
Uses a content analysis of public statements and interviews of the founding members of Black Lives Matter (BLM). Examines the ways in which the founders of BLM frame the group's actions. Brings 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.
Examines the development and use of Municipal takeovers, examining how this policy of aggressive state intervention calls into question two principles of local autonomy enshrined in home rule: that allowing local matters to be handled by local authority removes the need for state special legislation and that giving local governments functional autonomy allows them to solve problems without state intervention. This article presents case studies of New Jersey and Michigan to examine differences in home rule protection as well as approaches to municipal takeover.
Discusses the complex and often amorphous nature of community development policy and practice. Argues for more inclusion of community development theories and practice in public affairs curriculum in order to foster more democratic and inclusive practice.
Examines how a local faith based organization garnered social capital within its surrounding community to pursue successful community development in the absence of and opposition to governmental support and political resistance.