English Résumé

Ph.D. in Political Science
Bilingual in French and English

Areas of Research

• Comparative Health Policy
• Welfare Politics
• Philanthropy
• New Public Management
• Religion in Public Policy

Research and Teaching Experience

Guest Lecturer, Institute of Political Studies, Rabat, Morocco and Research Fellow at the Centre Jacques Berque (2014)
Research Associate, Canadian Institutes of Health Research / French National Center of Scientific Research (2013)
Assistant Professor at Sciences Po Grenoble, France (2011-2013)
Courses: Introduction to Political Science (B.A.) ; Public Policy / Social Policy (B.A.)
Policy Officer at the French Ministry of Social Affairs (2012)
Organization of a seminar and report-writing about social benefits in France
Program Coordinator of an international program of scientific cooperation “State and Professionalization of Politics in France and Chile, 19th-20th Centuries” (2006-2008)

Doctoral Dissertation

To Govern the Poor: Genesis, Implementation and Operation of Conditional Cash Transfer Program in the United States and in France
Qualitative, U.S./France Comparative Research
Achieved at the Institute of Political Studies (Grenoble, France) and the Institute for French Studies (NYU, Visiting Doctoral Fellow in 2009)
Fellowship from the French local government
Published in French at the Presses Universitaires de Rennes.
English translation in progress.


This study provides a comparative analysis of two anti-poverty initiatives in New York (Opportunity NYC) and in France (Active Solidarity Income). It is based on extensive fieldwork and numerous interviews in both countries. Conditioning subsidies on behavior and giving a nudge “to do the right thing” by structuring the choices of the poor now defines the way poverty is fought against. The political agenda is built around the concept of making conditional social policy non-partisan solutions. Policy transfers, data-making or experimental design figure among the ways of taking politics out of policy-making. This study finds there is no such thing and that these programs reflect a substantive political orientation. The mechanisms used to motivate the poor are different. They are more than just an economic incentive that binds reward and behavior together. They are less than a coercive approach where work is mandatory to get relief. The nudge emerges as a third way that consists in a paradoxical injunction: governing the poor to govern themselves. No entitlement there. If this is nothing new in America, this is new in France. Hence, policy is not legitimated by effectiveness, like it used to be with new public management, but by moralistic assumptions. Reform is based more on commonsense than technical arguments. The work ethics and the “good choices” justify the money spent for the poor (public in France, private in New York). The experimental design, once appropriated by political instances, gives a scientific glow to these programs so they appear “universal” and “neutral”. In a nutshell, this dissertation explores how poverty is governed by a policy-mix of politics and science.

Keywords: Opportunity NYC, Active Solidarity Income, anti-poverty initiatives, conditional cash transfer programs, conditionality, incentives, nudge, social experiments, social policy, public policy, philanthropy, Welfare State, New York, United States, France.


John Mollenkopf (City University of New York)
Bruce Berg (Fordham University)
Phil Coltoff (New York University)