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SO4029 Sociology of the City Urban Governance & Politics.

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Presentation on theme: "SO4029 Sociology of the City Urban Governance & Politics."— Presentation transcript:

1 SO4029 Sociology of the City Urban Governance & Politics

2 Power, Politics & Policy Power & Resources Functions of Local State/Govt.: Welfare Provision Regulator of Local Economy An intermediary in the formation of collective identity A coercive agent of social order and discipline (Savage et al p.154) Also - Infrastructure, planning, sanitation, local environment etc.

3 The Structure of Urban Politics Politicians Professionals & Bureaucrats The Parapolitical Structure: Pressure groups Business organisations Labour & trade union organisations Conservation societies and other special interest groups (Nimby) Homeowner groups and tenants associations Urban Social Movements

4 Theories of Urban Governance Elite Theories – see Machiavalli (16th C.), Pareto, Mosca, political intrigue and cunning, democracy largely illusory; Michels, Iron Law of Oligarchy – rule by confederation of those at top of political/organisational tree Public Choice – Dahl – no one group can monopolise power; Arrow(1951); Almond (1990) – local politics needs to be responsive to voters exercising rational choice ( see Parker P )

5 Urban Political Economy – (see Castells; Harvey) – neo- Marxist/left liberal perspective – urban political system as a consequence of capitalist/market competition and influence Urban Growth Machine – Logan & Molotch – boosterism and growth coalitions – collective economic elite? Urban Regime Theory – Elkin & Stone – informal yet relatively stable groups with access to institutional resources – informal collection of economic elites – urban movers and shakers Consensus- whether cities are controlled by elite is a matter of debate. However, elites tend to dominate the decision making process in most cities. (see Gottdiener, Savage, Parker) Theories of Urban Governance

6 The Changing Nature of Urban Governance 1) Until mid 19 th Century – Oligarchy of local bourgeoisie 2) Municipal Socialism – public service, paternalism, liberal reform (& corruption) 3) 1910 – 1940 – The depression leads to greater role of local government – housing, health, education, welfare. (Business leaders supplanted by civic minded lower middle classes)

7 The Changing Nature of Urban Governance 4) – Urban Managerialism (Rex & Moore (1967) – Professionals and Politicians (facilitating the needs of capitalist enterprise while mitigating its negative effects) 5) mid 1970s – Decline of local government – centralised control and privatization/quasi- marketisation of local services – civic entrepreneurialism 6) New Phase of Local Government? – Increasing Public Concerns over Environment & Sustainability (Knox & Pinch, 2000; Savage et al, 2003)

8 Urban Democracy Politics in the Industrial City: Parish, Borough & County to Elected Council 1889 (England & Wales) USA Bossism & Political Machines Gerrymandering

9 Late 19 th & Early 20 th C. Workforce Needs of Capital/Industry – Devalorisation Individual Provision (Market Failures) Bridging the Gap: Public Health (Public Good) Education Housing Welfare Transport Legitimation of Local Government Urban Governance & Collective Consumption (Castells)

10 The Challenge to Collective Consumption Fiscal Crisis of 1970s – Public wants and tax base out of sync. Erosion of the Tax Base Reproductive self sufficiency v reproductive dependency (overload & dependency)- (see Saunders, 1986) Thatcherism – Removal of local tax raising powers and spending. Local authorities (labour) seen to be representatives of the feckless urban poor spending the taxes of the hard-working middle classes. (Similar patter of Privatism in USA under Reagan) Transfer of public services to private firms and quangos Reduction of Executant role of Local Government (Savage et al, 2003).

11 Political Participation in Local Elections Declining electoral turnout generally, and particularly in local elections < 50% more commonly 25-30%

12 Political Participation Key Reasons for voter apathy– Dont need to act No point in acting Socio-spatial (Gottdiener): Suburbanisation (see also secessionist movements & divorce the city) Centralisation Privatism Globalization – (Effectiveness and Locus of Decision-making)

13 Filling the Gap: Urban Social Movements Alternative cultures Urban street as a locus of conflict Migration, diversity and public protest Castells (1978) – mobilisation for rights to collective consumption Pickvance (1985) – linked sub-model of urban movements 1) Provision and Access to Housing & Urban Services 2) Control and Management of the Urban Environment 3) Defensive Movements around Environmental or Social Threats Urban (& Suburban) Social Movements & Issue Politics

14 Metropolitan Social Policy: The Ongoing Debate (Liberals) Social Intervention: The Tragedy of the Commons – collective self interested action is often against wider social interests Uneven Development & Policy: Redistribution Infrastructure and Housing (Conservatives) Market Intervention: Support for Economic Development Support for Global Competition (Gottdiener & Hutchison, 2006) (New Boosterism?)

15 Social Justice (Harvey, 1973) Development of non-exploitative forms of social, economic, occupational and political organisation Combat social and economic marginalisation Empower the disenfranchised Enable widespread consultation on urban projects and their design Enact social control in a non-oppressive manner that does not unnecessarily inhibit empowerment and self- expression Recognise and mitigate the negative ecological effects of urban developments, including their impact on future generations

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