Tuesday, 13 October 2015
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This article reviews dominant urban political theories and argues that pluralism, public choice theory, and regime theory do not pay sufficient attention to the urban state and history. By "bringing the state back [into]" urban political theory, this article reveals the extent to which each dominant theoretical perspective represents a similar theme played again and again in different historical periods and institutional contexts. I argue that city politics and urban government are shaped by economic and democratic forces, and whether, when, and how these forces influence city officials is contingent upon the design of those local organizations, their capacities, their position within broader political structures, and their position within broader economic systems. By bringing history and the urban state to the forefront of local political analysis, this essay reveals continuity across dominant urban political theories and identifies important theoretical and explanatory gaps.

Seeking regulatory power unavailable at the urban scale, community–labor coalitions have persuaded dozens of state legislatures to enact legislation addressing the problem of wage theft in low-wage service industries. The project of wage theft reform raises important questions about whether urban coalitions can effectively pursue their advocacy goals in State Houses. Drawing on an inventory of 255 wage theft laws proposed between 2004 and 2012, we evaluate three rival explanations of why wage theft legislation succeeds: worker grievances, political conditions, and movement strength. We find that states with larger numbers of worker centers and higher union density are more likely to both propose and enact wage theft legislation. Our results also suggest that urban reform movements maintain greater power to set legislative agendas than they do to ensure the passage of proposed laws. This suggest that "new labor" actors have developed state-level political power that warrants further scrutiny and explanation.

This study intends to enrich the literature of comparative studies on growth machine and urban regime through contextualized analyses of growth politics in Shanghai, China. An analytical framework is developed to advance our understanding of the variation of growth politics in a different urban setting. In particular, this study contends that local government’s dual goals of promoting economic growth and managing development-related conflicts are the key to making sense of growth politics in Shanghai. This specific configuration of institutions suggests that growth coalition has to extend itself spatially into neighborhood level and temporally into postdevelopment phase to sustain urban growth. This extension requires pro-growth players to exploit infrastructural power to contain homeowners’ activism. This research calls for attention to the nexus between economic and political dimensions of urban growth, a refined conceptualization of local states, and the interaction between pro-growth and antigrowth forces which shapes the forms and dynamics of urban regime.

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ICTC 2016
9-11 November 2016, Launceston, Tasmania

ICTC is holding its annual conference in Launceston, Tasmania 9-11 November. Mark your diaries now. 

For more informatoin or to get updates on the conference, send an email to events@ictcsociety.org.

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