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City bound: political science and the American metropolis

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City bound: political science and the American metropolis.

Author: Danielson, Michael N.; Lewis, Paul G. Source: Political Research Quarterly v. 49 (Mar. 1996) p. 203-20 ISSN: 1065-9129 Number: BSSI96023256 Copyright: The magazine publisher is the copyright holder of this article and it is reproduced with permission. Further reproduction of this article in violation of the copyright is prohibited.

By examining political conflicts and processes in central cities, scholars of urban politics in the first two thirds of this century identified concepts and research questions that were central to the development of American political science. In recent years, however, the work of political science's urbanists has not contributed as frequently to broad dialogues in the discipline. Instead, scholars in this field have engaged in insular (if often fascinating) debates, frequently choked with specialized jargon. (See the critiques in Peterson 1981: preface; Jones 1989.).

In so doing, attention has remained focused, to an extreme degree, on big cities. We contend that scholarship in the field, accordingly, has offered a highly skewed perception of contemporary urban political phenomena. This article reviews the development of the field, and offers some explanations for its preoccupation with larger cities. It then argues for a reconsideration of what urban politics denotes. Such a clarified conception of their subject matter would take scholars of urban politics far beyond the city limits. It would not preclude their engaging in the whole host of research topics that have traditionally marked the field, but would lend more analytical coherence to such inquiry.

THE CENTRAL CITY AS A POLITICAL RESEARCH LABORATORYCities long have provided a bountiful area of study for political scientists in the United States. Power and political behavior were largely rediscovered by political science in the gritty clubhouses and city halls of the industrial city, notably in the pioneering studies of city bosses and political machines (e.g., Gosnell 1934; McKean 1940). The work of these analysts was a reaction to an earlier generation of political scientists who helped invent American public administration in attempting to devise municipal structures to deal with the burgeoning tasks of city governments in the wake of tumultuous urban growth during the Progressive era.

Urban political analysis has been in the forefront of the systematic study of political power. Major contributions to the elaboration of the pluralist paradigm emerged from detailed urban studies, most notably Dahl's (1961) seminal work in New Haven, but also in the monumental examination of New York by Sayre and Kaufman (1960), and Banfield's (1961) analysis of political influence in Chicago. Research that explored the interplay between pluralist and elitist explanations also focused on cities -- as in the reappraisal of sociologist Floyd Hunter's Atlanta (Jennings 1964), and the search for an elusive "second face" of power in Baltimore (Bachrach and Baratz 1970). And the recent and promising effort to move beyond the pluralist-elitist debate by analysts of governing "regimes" has been grounded on work on Dallas and Atlanta (Elkin 1987; Stone 1989).

Urbanists in political science also have been in the forefront of exploring the connections between economics and politics. One set of political scientists, drawn from a variety of theoretical and methodological persuasions, has sought to understand business influence and economic power in urban contexts. From this work has emerged conclusions that economic power is limited in the case of pluralists, or dominant in the work of elitists, or inherent in the accumulation of capital, in the neo-Marxist literature. Another group of political scientists has applied public choice theory and various paradigms of political economy to urban settings, making important contributions to understanding political decentralization, service provision, and other problems.

In most of this work, urban political inquiry has developed closer intellectual links to other disciplines than most fields of political science. The long attempt to understand political influence in urban settings has been a joint venture -- albeit an often raucous one -- between political scientists and sociologists. The literature on urban political economy and the provision of public services rests heavily on initial work by economists, and continues to involve a lively exchange between researchers in the two disciplines. More generally, scholars of urban politics owe substantial intellectual debts to the theoretical and empirical initiatives of the Chicago school of urban sociology, as well as to geography, regional science, and the burgeoning field of urban history.

Most of the important contributions of urban political science, as well as a good deal of the rest of the literature in the field, have focused on the central city. In the beginning, of course, there were only cities to study. Urban government was city government as long as cities expanded their political boundaries to encompass new urban growth. At the turn of the century, when Goodnow (1904) wrote one of the first studies of city government, cities encompassed the vast majority of urban dwellers and ever more of the urban economy. Urban politics was city politics as long as cities contained most of what was urban.

SUBURBAN GROWTH, CITY-BOUND ANALYSISCities, however, have included a steadily declining share of urban America -- in terms of people, area, jobs, wealth -- throughout the twentieth century. One by one, cities in the United States stopped expanding their political jurisdictions. Residents and business interests who preferred political separation to inclusion in the city created a host of new suburban jurisdictions (Teaford 1979; Burns 1994). In the process, political boundaries partitioned metropolitan areas into central cities and suburbs, separated suburbs from one another, and set off school districts and special districts as an overlapping layer of limited-purpose polities.

The most fundamental distinction was the boundary separating central cities from the rest of their metropolitan areas, the portion generally classified as suburban. The suburban share of metropolitan population steadily increased as the twentieth century unfolded. By 1990, far more Americans (almost one in two) lived in suburbs than in cities.

These changes in the distribution of the urban population have been paralleled by the outward movement of jobs, economic activity, public investments, and almost everything else, from football stadiums to tattoo parlors. The pace of this pervasive decentralization has accelerated in the past quarter century, giving rise to a new kind of urban development, which has been termed spread city, edge city, the outer city, the technoburbs, the new heart-land, and postsuburbia (Fishman 1987; Garreau 1991; Herbers 1986; Kling, Olin, and Poster 1991; Muller 1981). Each of these terms underscores the reality that a new set of urban arrangements in space is being formed. This "new metropolis" is the land of the beltways, regional malls, office parks, and an endless variety of residential communities; it is the place where ever more Americans live and work. The scope and diversity of the new metropolis mean fewer and fewer urban dwellers need the city for work or play, for shopping or dining out, for health care or legal advice.

With the city's steadily diminishing share of the urban population and urban economy has come a concomitant loss of political influence in state and national political arenas. The portion of city voters in state and national elections has steadily dropped, as has the number of city representatives in state legislatures and Congress. Cities, of course, have not withered away politically. Typically (though not always), they are the most populous urban jurisdictions, led by mayors who remain the most visible and powerful urban politicians, and contain substantial concentrations of African-Americans, Latinos, and other important groups of voters. Cities are media centers, as well as the location of the largest clusters of business elites and other campaign contributors. Still, votes and voters count for a great deal in American politics, and cities contain a declining portion of the urban electorate and lessened political clout in Washington and the state capitals.

Unless urban and city are deemed to be synonymous, urban America increasingly encompasses more than cities. Rhetorically, of course, urban and city often are used equivalently. Urban problems are widely seen as central city problems; the urban programs that politicians dutifully produce as election day nears are expected to address crime, housing, and health issues in cities. Many students enroll in courses in urban politics expecting to study only cities. And dictionaries commonly define urban as "characteristic of, or constituting a city.".

To conceive of urban politics as city politics, however, is to define the field in terms of a particular kind of local jurisdiction or particular set of political boundaries. Cities, unlike states, are not a generic category of political jurisdiction in the United States. Municipalities, which is what cities are, come in a variety of types and sizes. Most municipalities are suburbs rather than cities in the classic sense of the Big Apple, Motown, or Frisco.

Certainly, the political lines that separate city and suburb are extremely important, dividing urban areas into different political worlds with significant differences in constituencies, demands, resources, and political scale (see Elazar 1966; Willbern 1964). But this dividing line varies from place to place, a product of the interplay of local political forces, topography, county and state boundaries, and the rules of particular states concerning annexation, consolidation, incorporation, special districts, and the powers of local governments. The boundary between city and suburb is a critical variable for analysts to consider. But the city limits should not delimit the study of urban politics.

Urban political science, by and large, has remained preoccupied with central cities despite their steadily declining relative importance. Political scientists studying community power, for example, have rested their cases almost exclusively on fieldwork in cities. Contributions to this literature, including work on protest (Lipsky 1970), non-decision making (Crenson 1971), and planning (Altshuler 1965) rest on case studies of major cities. Most studies of the politics of urban policy arenas have also focused on cities (e.g., Lipsky 1971; Peterson 1976; Fogelson 1977). So have studies of urban representation and governmental structure (Dye and Garcia 1978; Hamilton 1970; Lineberry and Fowler 1967; Berry, Portnoy and Thomson 1993), and work on urban bureaucracies and service delivery (Levy, Meltsner, and Wildavsky 1974; Lineberry 1977; Mladenka 1981; Boyle and Jacobs 1982). And the most controversial book on urban politics, Banfield's (1970) assault on the unheavenly city, was city bound.

Political scientists have preferred to study cities for a number of reasons. Even in decline, cities remain the largest and most important urban jurisdictions; their officials and elites the most powerful, their governments and bureaucracies the biggest and most colorful, and their impact on state and nation the greatest. Cities also offer single political systems, reasonably coherent within their boundaries and thus superficially easy to compare with other cities. The growing and proliferating suburbs, on the other hand, have been far more difficult to comprehend. Suburbia comes in a variety of packages: numerous small general-purpose governments, unincorporated areas served by country government, independent school districts whose jurisdictions may or may not coincide with municipalities, and special districts large and small.

Political scientists also studied what was familiar at the research universities located in cities. Scholars at Chicago, Columbia, Harvard, and the Yale concentrated their efforts on the cities that offered rich opportunities for serious study on their doorstep. Not coincidentally, a disproportionate amount of the research in urban politics deals with Chicago, New York, Boston, and New Haven.

New Haven and other older cities also attracted scholarly attention because of urban renewal, which highlighted the interplay of public officials and business elites in efforts to redevelop city centers. Rebuilding of the central business district has been the most studied set of political transactions by urbanists in political science (e.g., Dahl 1961; Stone 1989; Fainstein et al. 1983; Mollenkopf 1983; Wolfinger 1974). Urban renewal offered a bonanza of actors, interactions, and issues -- local officials, business elites, neighborhood groups, federal bureaucrats, large-scale planning, economic development, use of public funds for private purposes, and relocation of residents and businesses. Urban renewal in its original form and subsequent incarnations preoccupied students of political influence, intergovernmental relations, and public-private relationships.

This fascination reinforced the concentration of political science on cities, and further focused the attention of many scholars on a particular part of the city, its downtown. Urban politics for many became the politics of the central business district -- hardly a microcosm of urban America. The only important actors were top city officials and economic elites who plotted to retain or restore the economic vitality of the urban core, and sometimes the residents of inner neighborhoods threatened with displacement.

That cities continued to decline despite urban renewal reinforced the appeal of cities for scholars. Urban crisis was even more interesting than urban renewal, and the two were related since renewal accelerated the spread of decay and intensified racial conflict. Massive population shifts, staggering job losses, shrinking tax bases, racial strife, ghetto revolts, tumultuous labor relations, and fiscal crises were understandably irresistible to students of politics. For a new generation of scholars writing from a critical perspective on the U.S. political economy, central city decline was a virtual invitation to test radical hypotheses or apply nontraditional modes of analysis. Researchers flocked to the beleaguered cities, producing work that kept the city as the central focus of urban political analysis, as in the reexamination of urban politics through the lens of fiscal crisis (Shefter 1985; Swanstrom 1988; Fuchs 1991).

Urban change was most strikingly racial change, as African-Americans replaced whites in almost every large city, and Latinos became an increasingly important component of city populations. Researchers interested in black, Latino, and Asian-American politics inevitably were drawn to the places where these groups are concentrated. From the early work of Gosnell (1935) and Wilson (1960) through contemporary explorations, the literature of Negro politics, black power, African-American mayors, Latino mobilization, and minority empowerment has been rooted in the cities (Altshuler 1970; Greenstone and Peterson 1973; Browning, Marshall, and Tabb 1990; Grimshaw 1992; Sonenshein 1993).(FN1).

In an earlier period, many of political science's urbanists looked beyond the cities. Suburbs and metropolitan areas were prominently featured in the literature which emerged in the decades after World War II, as a now aging generation of analysts followed the action beyond the city boundaries. Building on the earlier work of Jones (1942), suburban politics and efforts to create metropolitan governments attracted considerable scholarly attention (Wood 1959; Gilbert 1967; Williams et al. 1965; Hawkins 1966; Wirt et al. 1972). Others worked on the growing web of connections between metropolitan areas and the national and state governments (Connery and Leach 1960; Herman 1963; Danielson 1965), and the power of specialized regional authorities (Doig 1966). And political scientists struggled to develop theoretical understanding of complex metropolitan political systems (Ostrom, Tiebout, and Warren 1961; Wood 1961; Williams 1971).

Some of this literature is now dated, while some other works in this vein were intellectually compromised by their association with overt efforts to reform metropolitan governing arrangements (see the critique in Ostrom 1972). To a greater degree, however, political research on suburbia and metropolitan areas simply was overshadowed by work on cities, especially as the urban centers were racked by recurring crises and spectacular conflicts. To be sure, some political scientists continued to frame urban political inquiry in metropolitan and suburban terms (e.g., Danielson and Doig 1982; Owen and Willbern 1985; Thomas and Murray 1992). And a younger cohort of researchers explored the political economy of metropolitan areas, shedding new light on decentralization, competition among urban units, and provision of public services (Miller 1981; Schneider 1989; Stein 1990; Weiher 1991; Lyons, Lowery, and DeHoog 1992). Most recently, an important work on publicsector entrepreneurship in American politics drew from an empirical data set of hundreds of suburban municipalities, and made important points about policy making, leadership, and urban political economy (Schneider, Teske, and Mintrom 1995).

Nonetheless, the most influential work of the past fifteen years has been city bound. Regime analysis, the ambitious effort by Elkin and Stone to characterize the complex relationship between business elites and public officials, is framed almost entirely in terms of cities.(FN2) Shefter's impressive analysis of urban political and fiscal crisis (1985) is largely bounded by New York City's limits. Katznelson's wide-ranging examination of Urban Politics and the Patterning of Class (1981) also rests on case materials from New York, that most atypical of jurisdictions.

Last but hardly least is Peterson's exploration of City Limits (1981), often considered the most important contribution to the urban politics literature of the past two decades. Peterson's city limits refer to the limited capabilities of city governments in the context of the American federal system (particularly with respect to redistributive policymaking), not the limits that separate the city from the rest of the metropolis. His analysis of city economic objectives and intermunicipal competition also is framed largely in terms of cities, rather than the range of political units that populate the metropolitan landscape. Cities, however, are limited by political separation and fragmentation within the metropolis as well as by the federal system; they compete, usually unsuccessfully, with surrounding suburban jurisdictions for investment, jobs, and revenue-generating residents. The developmental imperative that Peterson posits for cities seems less universal among suburban jurisdictions.(FN3).

A SKEWED UNDERSTANDINGAs a result of this preoccupation with cities, political science has developed a skewed conception of urban politics. Power, elections, parties, business influence, bureaucracy, fiscal politics, intergovernmental relations, ethnicity, race -- all have been studied primarily in the context of cities. Perhaps the interplay of officials and business elites in suburbs is similar to that in cities. But perhaps not, since the political contexts typically involve smaller and less visible units and more diffusion of governmental authority, and the economic elites are often different from those whose interests are most at risk in the central business district.

Certainly other disciplines have paid more attention to the urban totality. Sociology has been less city bound than political science, political boundaries being less important than socioeconomic demarcations. One of the strengths of the influential work of sociologists Logan and Molotch (1987) on "growth machines" is its inclusiveness; they examine the influence of the interests that benefit from growth in cities and suburbs. The most comprehensive political treatment of the suburbs in recent years came from an urban historian (Jackson 1985). Economists, geographers, and other urban specialists also have cast their empirical and theoretical nets more widely than political scientists.

The point is neither that central cities are unimportant nor unworthy of serious study. It is only that cities are not enough to understand urban politics, and that city politics cannot be understood without encompassing the rest of the spreading metropolis. Demographic and economic change in cities, downtown development, fiscal policy, and altered relations with state and national government need to be examined in their metropolitan contexts.

One result of the path that has been followed is different theories for different urban components, theories that pass in the night. Propositions concerning power derive almost exclusively from work on cities, and largely from studies of the elites involved in redeveloping the central business district. Explanations of fiscal and political crisis also are city bound, but typically involve a larger range of actors within and beyond the city. Hypotheses concerning the political structure of urban areas extend beyond the city limits, but rarely connect with theories of power or crisis. Different questions are asked about different parts of the elephant, producing answers about the head or the tusks or the texture of the skin, but not the whole creature.

RECONCEPTUALIZING "URBAN POLITICS"What, then, should constitute a field of urban politics? In the past, much scholarship has proceeded as if the term referred only to those political events that happen to take place within central city boundaries. But urban is more than the city. All political scientists working in this field likely would acknowledge this, but rarely is the definitional issue confronted explicitly.

One piece of proposed state legislation provides a narrow, but appropriate, definition of urbanization as:.

growth that makes intensive use of land for the location of buildings, structures, and impermeable surfaces to such a degree as to be incompatible with the primary use of such land for the production of food, other agricultural products, the preservation of open space, or the extraction of mineral resources. When allowed to spread over a wide area, urban growth typically requires urban governmental services.(FN4).

A broader definition, perhaps more useful for social science analysis, holds that urbanization is a process by which human settlements acquire greater size, density, heterogeneity, and interdependence (Wirth 1938). Relying on either of these two standard definitions, it is clear that urban political science needs to expand its scope of inquiry, to broaden its theoretical concerns and empirical endeavors to encompass more of the challenging reality that is urban America.

We argue that urban politics makes most sense conceived of as the politics of urbanization. This approach suggests two avenues of research. First, how does the gathering of great numbers of unlike economic activities, land uses, and people affect the nature and distribution of power and governmental authority? In other words, what implications does the urbanization process have for the "authoritative allocation of value"? Second, and equally important: How do political power and governmental authority affect the distribution of land uses, population groups, and firms across the urbanizing landscape?

To a great degree, the sub-specialties of city-bound political science have always wrestled with these questions, albeit not explicitly. The study of bosses, machines, and reformers offers lessons in the way public authority -- formal and informal -- was arranged in response to the exigencies of urban growth and change. Scholars of urban race relations study the political implications of concentrated heterogeneous populations, and some trace the impact of public policies and political movements on the spatial distribution of racial and ethnic groups. Students of service delivery examine the challenges that urbanization presents for the provision of public goods. And those who research the politics of urban development, perhaps more explicitly than the rest, confront the question of how public and private power have interacted to shape the built environment.

But the politics-of-urbanization approach integrates these topics by placing them within a framework that concentrates on spatial relationships in politics. It offers the possibility of a field unified by the study of particular sets of political and political-economic relationships in space, rather than one pieced together by a focus on a particular set of jurisdictions. And it demands that attention be paid to the less familiar political processes, actors, and conflicts relevant to the majority of urban Americans who live and work outside central cities.

We do not ask that urbanists give up their appreciation of the individual histories, cultures, and details that distinguish particular cities, nor that they abandon idiographic case study techniques for the wholesale analysis of aggregate data. Rather, we argue that individual jurisdictions and political actors cannot be understood fully without an appreciation of how those places and people are situated within the wider urban community. Providing such metropolitan context, in fact, may itself begin to explain some of the distinctiveness of particular central cities and their politics. It also makes for better, more refutable comparative work.

NEW SUBSTANTIVE CONSIDERATIONSIf scholars of urban politics focus more attention beyond the city limits, they will have to confront a variety of phenomena that typically have not been topics of past inquiry. In the newer urban realms, growth conflicts generally center on the initial process by which vacant or agricultural land is converted to urban uses. This process is distinguished from the typical focus of citybound scholarship on the rearrangement of urban land uses in and around the central business district; it is the difference between urban development and redevelopment. As of yet, political science has not delved very deeply into the ubiquitous process by which more and more of the American landscape becomes intensively used "for the location of buildings, structures, and impermeable surfaces.".

In particular, more attention needs to be paid to the new world that is being created along the expanding rim of the metropolis, a vast new realm that steadily encompasses a growing share of votes, tax dollars, public services, and political interactions. This new metropolis is largely terra incognita for political scientists. The actors in the development process here may be less visible than those downtown; they include farmer-owners, land speculators, developers and their attorneys, and homeowner or condominium associations, as well as small-scale public bodies like townships, zoning boards, and the special districts that provide a funding mechanism for new infrastructure.

Government may appear less important here than in cities; political authority is more diffused, and politics highly fragmented along functional lines, reflecting the multiplicity of more or less autonomous limited-purpose governments that provide public services. Indeed, the "shadow governments" of the new metropolis -- some public, some private -- discharge a very large proportion of the collective responsibilities in the new metropolis (Garreau 1991: 179-208; McKenzie 1994) They raise new empirical and normative issues of accountability and civic capacity in urban areas, and of the nature and limits of private contractual relationships between individual citizens and collectivities.

Similarly, as outer areas urbanize, intergovernmental politics take on new dynamics. These developing areas, typically without any over-arching local government to be held accountable for the needs of rapid urbanization, often turn for assistance to higher levels of government. This has become more politically practical, of course, as suburban representatives have come to dominate so many legislative chambers. The politics-of-urbanization perspective implies enhanced analysis of state and national political arenas, to the extent that those levels of government affect or are affected by urbanization.

The states, in particular, require more systematic study. Increasingly, the states are where the action is in urban politics. City-bound urban political science was mesmerized by the connection between Washington and the cities, the pipeline that underwrote urban renewal, the war on poverty, public housing, and a host of other city programs. But states have moved center stage, as a consequence of Washington's domestic retreat, the critical role of the states in determining the rules and resources of local governments, and the inexorable demands of increasingly urban state electorates for more.

State boundaries encompass cities, the older suburbs, and the expanding metropolitan rim. They have the means to redistribute public powers and private wealth, as well as to allocate tax resources and functional responsibilities across the political boundaries of local jurisdictions. They can monitor fiscally distressed localities or reclaim authority over public education and other powers traditionally exercised by local governments. Their infrastructure policies -- and, in a growing number of states, growth management plans -- have profound implications for urban development patterns. Governors along with state legislatures, agencies, and courts increasingly displace mayors, councils, and city bureaucrats as the central players in the great game of urban politics.

NEW THEORETICAL POSSIBILITIESIf moving urban scholarship beyond its old boundaries presents new substantive challenges, it also offers more opportunities for the development and refinement of empirical theory. First of all, adopting a wider perspective necessarily brings more political units into the picture, and thus can help move the field beyond the tired controversy as to whether individual city governments are autonomous actors or are "dependent." All subnational polities in a federal system are to some degree constrained by the national context; and as economic units in an open, market economy, states and localities are surely prisoners of the market to some extent. But to explain or prescribe local politics as a function of what individual jurisdictions cannot do, without taking into account the urban milieu that surrounds them, stops conversation about urban politics before it can start.

Rather than focus on a single city, it would be theoretically fruitful to examine the collection of institutional arrangements that guide collective decision making in the metropolis. Thus, metropolitan areas rather than individual municipalities become the units of analysis. With this frame of reference, the "local state" likely will seem less overwhelmed by broad social and economic forces. Thus, in some of the most perceptive recent studies, political-institutional arrangements take on central explanatory significance (Miller 1981; Weiher 1991). Indeed, urban politics, conceived in our broad terms, seems a uniquely appropriate venue for the application of new institutional modes of analysis, which are concerned with the impact of formal and informal mechanisms of interest aggregation and decision making on policy and economic outcomes. Carefully delineated and measured, institutional arrangements in metropolitan areas can be tested for possible relationships to urban development patterns, fiscal policies, and service delivery patterns.

Probably the most basic institutional fact of life in metropolitan areas concerns the city limits themselves. As we have suggested, most city problems, and thus city politics, are critically shaped by the boundary between city and suburb. Where that political line is drawn, as well as its permeability, shape what politics is all about, the distribution of benefits and burdens. Because of these city limits, cities have disproportionately borne the burdens of economic and social restructuring: poverty, crime, homelessness, AIDS, failing schools, and racial conflict.

Certainly, a case could be made for comparative analyses of the effects of central city "boundedness" on various dimensions of well-being among city populations and governments. (See the somewhat rudimentary analysis in Rusk 1993.) Cities in crisis are often simply the deprived portions of otherwise healthy regions. In the suburban portions of metropolitan areas, the impact of governing arrangements is also not well studied. Does it matter whether relatively distant county governments directly administer the growing urban fringe, as opposed to systems of small-scale municipal home rule? Does growth politics take on a different form in large and small jurisdictions? And how has the continuing proliferation of special district governments -- often brought into existence by wily developers or other private sector parties -- affected political participation, urban development, and government entrepreneurship?

For those interested in historical analysis of American politics, research on the development of these institutional patterns promises to illuminate the changing power relationships over time between the public sector and various social and economic groups. "State building", in this country, has been as much a local as a national enterprise. Likewise, those scholars who pursue formal modeling of political institutions will find an opportunity to break new ground with urban research, and to wrestle with a continuing stream of related work in urban economics (e.g., Fischel 1985; Epple, Romer, and Filimon 1988).

Indeed, innovation may also result from new interactions with practitioners of other disciplines. The concept of purposive action within a larger institutional system, which seems central to a politics-of-urbanization approach, suggests that the field would benefit from renewed exchanges with scholars in international relations, as Holden (1964) long ago argued. Finally, urban researchers of any methodological stripe will want to consider closer connections with the discipline of urban geography, given the continuing interest in the possible effects of political variables on urban form, or what the geographers call morphology. This appreciation of geographical concepts is important in part because of the lack of vocabulary political scientists have to describe generic portions of the metropolis, without using terms such as city and suburb which are themselves political constructs. Instead, researchers should be able to distinguish the old preautomobile city, the early suburban settlements, and the new metropolitan rim, and consider how the jurisdictional shell superimposed on these areas has affected their responses to the very different sets of challenges they face.

By addressing the entire range of urban places and governmental units in the United States, urbanists can be more confident in developing and testing theories and concepts. In this way, the urban politics field may come to hold greater relevance for the study of American politics (as in the work of Schneider, Teske, and Mintrom 1995).

CONCLUSIONMaking urban political science less city bound inevitably promises to complicate further a field marked by an abundance, perhaps a surfeit, of information. But there is no alternative if urban politics is to be understood in its totality. Nor is there much choice if political scientists want to understand the manifest differences among urban polities. Pluralist and regime theories only scratch the surface of explaining differences among places in the roles of economic elites, public officials, and other players. Despite their general heuristic value, Peterson's city limits, much of urban political economy, and structural Marxist theories are too universalistic to offer much help in understanding political differences among cities, or suburbs, or metropolitan areas.

In the postwar decades, the old industrial city became ever less relevant to the political experience of most Americans. At the same time, the urban politics field, captivated by this transitory urban form, lost its central place in the study of American politics. Our point in this article is not to prescribe any particular theoretical or methodological orthodoxy. Rather, our claim is that examining politics and government at the metropolitan level can open new analytical options for enterprising researchers. Hopefully, scholars of urban politics once again might communicate broadly the vitality of their subject matter and generalizability of their research. As others who have pondered the field have emphasized (Herson 1957; Jones 1989), the path is perilous, but the terrain is rich and the trip worth taking, even if more territory needs to be visited than has been the case to date.

Added material.



FOOTNOTES1 The American Political Science Association's classification of a field of "Urban or Ethnic Politics" may have contributed to the blurring of urban politics and racial politics, further masking the distinctive aspects of the two fields.

2 Two isolated articles have applied regime analysis to individual suburban jurisdictions (DiGaetano and Klemanski 1991; Kerstein 1993).

3 Peterson holds that cities seek to attract firms and residents that will reduce the property tax burdens of existing residents. But evidence from suburbia suggests that many municipalities are willing to accept higher taxes in exchange for environmental amenities and slower growth (Erickson and Wollover 1987; Maurer and Christenson 1982).

4. These are seen to include "storm and sanitary sewer systems, domestic water systems, street cleaning services, fire and police protection services, public transit services, and other public utilities...." Quoted from "An Act for Land Conservation and Development," a bill introduced in the Colorado House of Representatives in 1991.

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