OVERVIEW OF POLITICAL CHANGE
The field of urban politics has changed dramatically since the early 1960s, which many regard as its heyday. Then, some of political science's major figures mounted a counterattack against a loose assemblage of neo-Marxists, mostly sociologists, who had concluded that American cities, like the larger society, were governed by a "power elite." The issue seemed important at the time. The efforts of the political scientists involved served as evidence that their discipline was capable of providing intellectual leadership in a period when national political leaders were showing increased concern for urban problems.
Unfortunately, the field's prominence was short lived. Critics from within and outside the discipline identified methodological weaknesses in evidence supporting the new interpretations. As quantitative methods became more fashionable in the social sciences, the perceived lack of rigor in the research techniques of the field of urban politics led many promising young scholars to view it as a career dead end. Perhaps equally important, changes in the national political mood lessened concern for the political and social ills prevalent in urban areas.
The fiscal problems experienced by many American cities in the 1970s rekindled interest in urban politics. The neo-Marxists returned. Since it was hard to square the fiscal disorder of cities with the notion that local elites had everything under control, they broadened their argument to include the workings of capitalism nationally and internationally. However, few political scientists were interested in recreating the community power debate by either