Governing Urban America: Structure, Politics, and Administration

Governing Urban America: Structure, Politics, and Administration

Governing Urban America: Structure, Politics, and Administration

Governing Urban America: Structure, Politics, and Administration

Excerpt

The government of cities is a part of the political process. Since this is the case, I believe that a course in American city government should be taught as a part of the offerings of political science in the liberal arts tradition. I have tried to write this textbook with that purpose in mind. It will, therefore, not serve as a handbook for the local government official, and it will not teach applied administration to a student who is a would-be city manager. Perhaps it may inspire a few students to take further courses toward a career in municipal administration, but that is not its major purpose. Principally, this textbook will, I hope, teach the college student, whether a political science major or otherwise, some of the things he, as a citizen, needs to know about his city and its governmental operations.

I have made three basic assumptions in writing this book. One is that a general text on city government should deal not only with structure and policy making, but also with functions and administrative operations. This volume is designed to be used as the text for either a one- or a two- semester course, but the current trend toward a single-semester course has been considered in the allocation of space. A second assumption is that city government is meaningful only if studied as part of the whole urban culture. I have therefore made considerable use of the materials of urban sociology, social psychology, and other related disciplines. A third assumption is that the process of urban government is primarily a political process. I have emphasized this point throughout the text. Functions are discussed from the point of view of what the lay citizen needs to know, and emphasis has been placed upon current issues of policy. The administrative organization of functions is not ignored, but detailed treatment of technical engineering and administrative problems has been omitted in the belief that these are properly material for professional courses in public administration as distinguished from academic courses in political science. I believe that the apathy so often found in connection with municipal government can be overcome only by convincing more people that good municipal government is a matter not alone of administration of a professional quality, but also of protecting one's stake in a local political process--a process that does not differ fundamentally from that on the state or national level.

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