Democracy and city life
Author(s)King, Loren A. (Loren Antony), 1968-
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
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The deliberative turn in recent political theory ties legitimacy to public deliberation about reasons, offered for and against exercises of authority by informed and sincere citizens, who share a commitment to finding mutually acceptable terms of social cooperation. But even such reasonable citizens may disagree on important matters, and some citizens will only rarely, if ever, see their sincere reasoned judgements reflected in democratic outcomes. I argue that, to be widely perceived as legitimate in plural settings, fair deliberative procedures must not only be inclusive and self-evidently grounded in a commitment to reasonableness and mutual respect; they must further ensure that dissenting parties have a reasonable expectation of eventually transforming features of the public sphere to better accommodate their distinctive values and interests. The result is a fair deliberative pluralism that reflects the cacophonous and variegated character of the public sphere in modern democracies. But I caution that this ideal requires conditions that can sustain spatial patterns of wealth and control over land uses that undermine the interests of certain spatially fixed groups. I draw on the experiences of U.S. cities to illustrate this tension. These cities feature profound and enduring inequalities of wealth and political influence, and urbanization generates patterns of industry and habitat that reinforce these inequalities. Municipal and state politics rarely alter the prevailing incentives for home and industry location that perpetuate these patterns,(cont.) and when efforts are made to do so - for instance, urban growth boundaries, or new taxation schemes to fund public services - the result is often increased antagonism between central cities and their regions. I suggest that these problematic features of cities emerge from political processes that determine how urban spaces are valued, resulting in boundaries and behaviors that undermine the democratic credentials of much political activity in urban settings. I evaluate two classes of solutions to these urban pathologies in light of class-specific constraints on mobility that originate in political strategies of control over urban spaces.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Political Science, 2001.Includes bibliographical references (p. 187-204).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Political Science.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology