The Dependent City Revisited: The Political Economy of Urban Development and Social Policy

By Paul Kantor | Go to book overview

talize on fortuitous economic circumstances to check this tendency. Nevertheless, in cities that are more dependent, politics are apt to center more on finding ways to limit conflicts over economic policy by excluding the public. Coping with decline while maintaining political support forces Frostbelt city officials to walk a tightrope; to stay on it they are tempted to limit democratic procedures if for no other reason than that it facilitates achieving their economic management objectives and serves their own needs for political survival.

Business-dominated regimes in Sunbelt cities have visibly given way in the face of social and economic changes that enliven popular control institutions. But as cities in this region become more economically dependent, the tendencies toward democratization of developmental politics may only be transitory. The political convergence of these cities with older central cities is increasing.

Only in suburbia do the political demands of local citizens and economic dependency find better accomodation. The interests that dominate suburban popular control systems often coincide closely with the exclusionary policies that promote the market positions of these jurisdictions. However, even here the limits on popular control of development are substantial. Because escaping the social consequences of economic dependency in suburbia entails--requires, in fact--the exclusion of groups that might make competing demands, these regimes can only serve parochial demands. Suburban governmental systems cannot be responsive to the broad array of excluded groups found in metropolitan areas that have a major stake in suburban development, perverting the uses of democratic institutions. At the same time, the drive for more and more exclusionary practices is beginning to seriously detract from the quality of suburban life and civil liberties.

In a sense, the diversity of urban development politics is more apparent than real: In the United States, citizens of dependent cities and suburbs face an uphill climb in trying to shape their economic futures.


Notes
1.
The effects of relatively "free market" suburbanization are aptly illustrated by one part of the New York region that grew without the usual public policies to restrict development--Staten Island. The opening of the Verrazano Narrows Bridge in 1964 precipitated a building boom that led to the rapid "suburbanization" of this relatively isolated and underpopulated borough of New York City. The city had no master plan for the borough's sudden development and imposed few public constraints on building; even large tracts of city-owned land were sold off to private developers virtually without restrictions. Minimum lot sizes were so small--40 by 100 feet--as to constitute hardly any regulation. As a result, most of the housing built by the private sector on Staten Island was smaller, cheaper, and in greater densities than that built in the New York suburbs during the same period. Though the borough's relatively unfettered private development often outraged planners who criticized the "ticky-tacky" character of the housing and the lack of consideration given to services and amenities, few other areas offered so much space, privacy, and "country" at such affordable prices ( Danielson and Doig, 1982:106-107).

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The Dependent City Revisited: The Political Economy of Urban Development and Social Policy
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents VII
  • Tables and Illustrations XI
  • Preface XIII
  • 1 - The Dependent City and Urban Politics 1
  • Notes 14
  • 2 - The Emergence of the Dependent City: Mercantile Democracy 17
  • Notes 39
  • 3 41
  • Notes 75
  • 4 - The Postindustrial Political Economy: The New Dependent City 77
  • Notes 111
  • 5 - Urban Entrepreneurship: The Mainstream of Community Development 113
  • Notes 139
  • 6 - The Politics of Decline and Conversion: Central Cities 141
  • 7 - Growth and Dependency: The Politics of Suburbia and the Sunbelt 161
  • Notes 190
  • 8 - The Governmentalization of Inequality 193
  • Notes 211
  • 9 - Can Dependent Cities Redistribute? 213
  • 10 - The Future of the Dependent City 231
  • References 247
  • About the Book and Author 267
  • Index 269
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