The Urban Renewal System in Newark
A number of recent inquiries into the politics of large cities have yielded remarkably similar images of urban power structure. 1 Instead of revealing a single, integrated structure for the entire city, these studies show a set of loosely integrated, semi-autonomous subsystems clustering around centers of significant decision making. Most political actors in the city specialize in one or two of these policy areas. Even if they are so inclined, few actors prove capable of spreading their influence across three or more areas. The decisions in one subsystem are largely unaffected by the demands of other subsystems; the policy products of the various subsystems are uncoordinated.
These subsystems are occasionally bridged by a political machine, as in Chicago, or by a strong mayor, as in New Haven. But city-wide politics is generally so loosely integrated that it may be more accurate to speak of a city's "power structures" than of its "power structure." The autonomy of Newark's urban renewal system and the apparent absence of any city-wide coordinating structure suggests that the plural term may be highly applicable to Newark.
There are two methodological implications in such a model of uncoordinated power structures. First, the model suggests that one useful approach to community power structure is through an analysis of the community's major policy areas. Since these areas form well-integrated systems, they may be treated as the basic units of the community-wide structure. Except for a city-wide consensus on a relatively small number of political norms, the total power structure of a community may be nothing more than the aggregate