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Charting Change in the City: Urban Political Orders and Urban Political Development

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Abstract

Cities are in a constant state of flux. Myriad changes—social, political, economic—can be identified at any particular time. But how might scholars differentiate between small-scale, fleeting changes and more substantial, decisive, and lasting change? This paper draws on the conceptual tools utilized in the subfield of American political development to argue the notion of urban political development—both with respect to “durable shifts in government authority” and to consequential ideational or discursive shifts —can help scholars to identify major, politically consequential shifts that occur at the urban level. It will further argue that urban political development is driven by “intercurrent” clashes among competing urban political “orders,” which are understood as political coalitions, driven by overarching purposes (or ideas) and that capture control of governing institutions. Building on insights of urban scholars Clarence Stone and Joel Rast, the aim of this paper is to reconceptualize urban change theoretically. I will illuminate this theoretical account with examples of urban austerity, and the wave of local minimum wage ordinances, and the rise of the carceral state to show how these important developments reflect underlying competition among neoliberal, progressive, and conservative political orders respectively.

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the American Political Tradition
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  • Lieberman
Lieberman, "Ideas and Institutions in Race Politics," in Ideas and Politics in Social Science Research, ed. Daniel Béland and Robert Henry Cox (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011), 209-27; Daniel Béland and Robert Henry Cox, eds., Ideas and Politics in Social Science Research (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2011); Desmond 47 Smith, "Which Comes First, the Ideas or the Institutions?," 2006, 108. 48 Rast, "Urban Regime Theory and the Problem of Change," 143.
In some respects, I may be guilty of this tendency in my account of the emergence of neoliberalism in Philadelphia. See Weaver, Blazing the Neoliberal Trail: Urban Political Development in the United States and the United Kingdom
  • Susan S Fainstein
Susan S. Fainstein, The Just City (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 2010); In some respects, I may be guilty of this tendency in my account of the emergence of neoliberalism in Philadelphia. See Weaver, Blazing the Neoliberal Trail: Urban Political Development in the United States and the United Kingdom.
Sustainable Development Rolled-out Neoliberalism and Sustainable CommunitiesVariegated Neoliberalization: Geographies, Modalities, Pathways
  • Jamie Raco
  • Nik Peck
  • Theodore
Raco, "Sustainable Development, Rolled-out Neoliberalism and Sustainable Communities," Antipode 37, no. 2 (March 1, 2005): 324-47; Neil Brenner, Jamie Peck, and Nik Theodore, "Variegated Neoliberalization: Geographies, Modalities, Pathways," Global Networks 10, no. 2 (April 1, 2010): 182-222.
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  • Wacquant
Loïc J. D. Wacquant, Prisons of Poverty (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2009);
Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control
  • Amy E Lerman
  • Vesla Weaver
Lerman, Amy E., and Vesla Weaver. Arresting Citizenship: The Democratic Consequences of American Crime Control. Chicago, 2014.
Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics
  • Lester K Spence
Spence, Lester K. Knocking the Hustle: Against the Neoliberal Turn in Black Politics. Punctum Books, 2015.
Which Comes First, the Ideas or the Institutions?
  • Smith
Smith, "Which Comes First, the Ideas or the Institutions?," 2006, 108.
The Ground Beneath Our Feet: Language, Culture, and Political Change
  • Joseph Lowndes
  • Victoria Hattam
Lowndes, Joseph, and Victoria Hattam. "The Ground Beneath Our Feet: Language, Culture, and Political Change." In Formative Acts: American Politics in the Making, edited by Stephen Skowronek and Matthew Glassman. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008.
Urban Nightmares: The Media, the Right, And the Moral Panic Over the City
  • Steve Macek
Macek, Steve. Urban Nightmares: The Media, the Right, And the Moral Panic Over the City. University of Minnesota Press, 2006.
Sustainable Development, Rolled-out Neoliberalism and Sustainable Communities
  • Paul E Peterson
  • City Limits
  • Chicago
Peterson, Paul E. City Limits. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1981. Raco, Mike. "Sustainable Development, Rolled-out Neoliberalism and Sustainable Communities." Antipode 37, no. 2 (March 1, 2005): 324-47.
Blazing the Neoliberal Trail: Urban Political Development in the United States and the United Kingdom
  • Timothy P R Weaver
Weaver, Timothy P. R. Blazing the Neoliberal Trail: Urban Political Development in the United States and the United Kingdom. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2016. ---. "By Design or by Default: Varieties of Neoliberal Urban Development." Urban Affairs Review, December 22, 2016, 1078087416683448. doi:10.1177/1078087416683448.