Tony Cheng Receives 5-Year National Science Foundation Career Award

Tony Cheng

Tony Cheng has received an NSF Career Award for his project entitled, “The Psuedo-State Entities of Street-Level Bureaucrats” (abstract below). This is an impressive achievement that recognizes Tony’s unique and timely contributions to our understanding of policing—both at the macro, organizational level and at the micro, individual level. He has been on an upward trajectory since receiving the 21st Century Dissertation Prize at Yale University (2021), and we are so pleased to have him continue that journey at Duke!


CAREER: The Psuedo-State Entities of Street-Level Bureaucrats

This CAREER project provides new insights at the intersection of organizational sociology and legal sociology by advancing our understanding of how street-level bureaucracies circumvent the regulatory constraints imposed on them as public sector agencies. The objective of this research is to provide a theoretical and empirical account of what it is calling ?pseudo-state entities? of street-level bureaucracies. Street-level bureaucracies are schools, hospitals, police and other public institutions that provide services directly to the public. The project argues street-level bureaucracies, establish pseudo-state entities like foundations, unions, associations, and other entities to circumvent the regulatory constraints imposed on them as public sector agencies.

The project will feature research and educational components to create novel scientific knowledge about how street-level bureaucracies utilize external organizations to benefit their interests. First, it will introduce an original theory of how state actors establish private organizations that enable them to engage in otherwise regulated activities. Next, based on interviews and a variety of public records and datasets this project will examine the origins, diffusion, and impact of (a) nonprofit foundations and (b) political action committees. The analysis of these two cases together will contribute new understandings of how the pursuit of bureaucratic autonomy can motivate the establishment of new organizational structures. Finally, this project will integrate educational initiatives?an Online Summer Academy, (under)graduate courses, unique publication opportunities for undergraduates, and a Shared Spotlight Series between scholars and organizers?to cultivate a research community for academics and non-academics whose work is already informed by, or seek additional resources for pursuing, research based on public institutions.