In the spotlight

Can Community-based Organizations Alleviate Political Inequality?

Sunggeun (Ethan) Park (University of Chicago), Jennifer E. Mosley (University of Chicago), Colleen M. Grogan (University of Chicago) | The results of political inequality and disenfranchisement are becoming increasingly difficult for Americans to ignore. It is not just the horrific scenes of black people, almost always from poor urban communities, being shot by police officers on video. It is also the voices of despair and anger as well as calls for justice and reform that are heard after such horrendous events occur. Street protests, the Black Lives Matter Movement, and everyday people on social media platforms have shed light on the palpable sense of political and civic isolation that exists in many urban communities.



  • By Lei Zhang (North Dakota State University), Tammy Leonard (University of Dallas), Resha Dias (North Dakota State University) | The record number of foreclosures that occurred during the 2007-2009 financial recession was a cause of significant concern for low-income neighborhoods. Foreclosures were often found to be concentrated in low-income, minority neighborhoods, and foreclosures themselves have been associated with declines in neighborhood home prices.

  • Mayors, Partisanship, and Redistribution

    May 18, 2017 // 0 Comments

    By Katherine Levine Einstein and David M. Glick | In the face of federal and state intransigence, progressive policy advocates have increasingly looked to cities for innovative and aggressive redistributive policy. Recently promulgated local policies tackling issues like minimum wage and sick leave policies offer some preliminary evidence that urban governments are important players in this policy arena. Given their direct and indirect powers at the local level, mayors naturally play a salient role in pursuing these policies through agenda setting and other means. Despite mayors’ centrality in these issues, prior studies of local redistribution have not focused on their prioritization of redistributive policy and efforts to put it on the agenda.

  • By Rizalino B. Cruz | Cities are taking the initiative to promote environmental sustainability. They provide incentives for buildings and homes to go green. They adhere to smart growth. They design urban space in a way that facilitates the interactions of human, nature, and built environment. And their latest efforts are directed toward clean energy. Many cities are not only encouraging residents to use but also produce their own electricity through renewable sources. But the road to clean energy is not a straight path. It has twists and turns and many obstacles along the way.

  • By Nik Theodore | Immigration policy was a focal point of Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, which included a pledge to mass-deport millions of unauthorized immigrants currently residing in the United States. Cloaked in the rhetoric of law-and-order policing, the proposed deportations have been presented as a necessary first step towards reforming the nation’s immigration system.

  • By Albert Meijer and Marcel Thaens | How can we make our cities safe? Entertainment areas in big cities are places of fun but also of trouble. Thefts and fights frequently occur on these areas when people gather in masses and drink large amounts of alcohol. Police presence may help to enhance safety but is costly and may even have adverse effects. A large police presence may give people the impression that there are problems! For these reasons, cities are looking for innovative ways to enhance the safety of entertainment areas.

  • By David Imbroscio | Recent political developments in both the United States and Europe have been, to say the least, jarring. They should give us cause to begin a process of systematically re-evaluating many of our accepted orthodoxies in political strategy and policy development. Regarding the latter, the urban sphere is a critical, if not essential, place to start. For embodied in what we call urban policy lies a host of core values and assumptions regarding what has been the central political question since at least the time of Aristotle: Namely, what constitutes the nature of “the good society,” and how it might be achieved? Urban policy – properly understood – thus is best thought of as representational of all matters concerning the public interest, at least in the sphere of domestic affairs.

  • Accomplishing Agonism in Urban Governance

    March 10, 2017 // 0 Comments

    Last year, Urban Affairs Review ran a Mini-Symposium on Urban Governance that featured by articles by Allison Bramwell and Jon Pierre (New Community Spaces), Susan Clarke (Local Place Based Urban Governance), and Jill Simone Gross (Hybridization and Urban Governance). We are now fortunate to have a set of follow-up pieces on Urban Governance written by the same authors to share with you on the Forum. Today we will be posting our second follow-up piece to the series from Jill Simone Gross.

  • Local Place-Based Collaborative Governance

    March 3, 2017 // 0 Comments

    Last year, Urban Affairs Review ran a Mini-Symposium on Urban Governance that featured by articles by Allison Bramwell and Jon Pierre (New Community Spaces), Susan Clarke (Local Place Based Urban Governance), and Jill Simone Gross (Hybridization and Urban Governance). We are now fortunate to have a set of follow-up pieces on Urban Governance written by the same authors to share with you on the Forum. Today we will be posting our second follow-up piece to the series from Susan E. Clarke.

  • New Community Spaces

    February 27, 2017 // 0 Comments

    Last year, Urban Affairs Review ran a Mini-Symposium on Urban Governance that featured by articles by Allison Bramwell and Jon Pierre (New Community Spaces), Susan Clarke (Local Place Based Urban Governance), and Jill Simone Gross (Hybridization and Urban Governance). We are now fortunate to have a set of follow-up pieces on Urban Governance written by the same authors to share with you on the Forum. Today we will be posting our first follow-up piece to the series from Allison Barmwell and John Pierre. [...]
  • By Peter Eisinger | During the Obama years cities around the nation articulated or actively pursued policy initiatives at the vanguard of progressivism. Sometimes these policy commitments were entirely consistent with Obama’s agenda (green cities, gun control) and sometimes they went beyond (the $15 minimum wage, sanctuary cities), but in general the cities were partners with Washington in the progressive project. Many cities also embraced global trade, an Obama priority, seeing both foreign direct investment and export as crucial to local economic fortunes. As the Trump era begins, however, these various progressive and globalist initiatives and commitments will clearly put cities in stark opposition to the national government. Cities across the country—not simply on the coasts but also in the heartland—are already emerging as active or de facto nodes of resistance to the Trump agenda.

  • By Carla M. Flink and Angel Luis Molina, Jr. | Strike up a conversation about politics with a friend, relative, or colleague, and you’d be hard pressed to surprise them by noting the increasing diversity in the demographic face of the United States. You might also argue that this population shift is important because it is changing the political landscape—the presence of demographic change in America is well noted by political pundits and casual observers alike. The American public now finds itself inundated with a flood of election media coverage and, almost inescapably, claims about how the electoral prospects of one candidate or another hinge upon the voting choices of historically underrepresented groups. On the governance side, these claims are important because many believe (or certainly hope) that some policymakers, be they aspiring or incumbent, are more likely to support policies that can improve the outcomes of which minorities care about the most.

  • Trump and Urbanism: Defending the Unwalled City

    February 14, 2017 // 0 Comments

    By Todd Swanstrom | Donald Trump ran against cities. During the campaign, he called inner cities “disasters,” implying that this was caused by flawed liberal policies. Trump’s negative portrayal of cities continued after the election. In his Inaugural Address he painted a bleak picture of “[m]others and children trapped in our inner cities, rusted-out factories scattered like tombstones across the landscape,” and he decried “the crime and the gangs and the drugs that have stolen too many lives.”

  • Infrastructure, Taxes, and Sanctuary Cities

    February 7, 2017 // 0 Comments

    By Michael Pagano | The 2016 presidential campaign rhetoric was laced with mischaracterizations of cities, even as we have come to understand the importance of cities and metro regions as the nation’s key economic drivers in the 21st Century. Yet, campaign rhetoric and the candidates’ statements do speak to an understanding of each candidate’s perspectives on cities and their connections to the federal government. Let’s take a look at three broad federal policy areas that will certainly be (or already have been) addressed by the Trump Administration and that clearly have a place-based dimension: infrastructure, tax reform, and sanctuary cities. [...]
  • Race and State in the Urban Regime

    February 2, 2017 // 0 Comments

    By Domingo Morel | In most U.S. cities, local authorities are responsible for governance of the local public schools and managing the local water supply, among other things. However, in many U.S. cities, local residents and their local elected officials do not have decision-making authority over traditional local government functions. In cities like Detroit, New Orleans, and Newark, states control the local schools. In Flint, the state of Michigan has governance authority over the city’s water supply. These cities have experienced state takeovers of their local governments. [...]
  • The Promise and Perils of Education Reform

    January 30, 2017 // 0 Comments

    By Vladimir Kogan | Many early indicators suggest that big cities are unlikely to get much love from the incoming Trump administration. At an early January press conference, for example, the president suggested his administration would focus on rewarding “places that I won” — and most big cities backed his Democratic opponent by large margins, as they have done for many decades. In addition, President Trump’s nominee to run the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Ben Carson, not only lacks government experience but is also openly hostile to some of the agency’s programs and efforts. [...]
  • By Michael Manville and Daniel Kuhlmann | Most big cities grow, but a handful of once-large American cities continuously shrink. Twenty-one of the 110 largest central cities in the US have lost population every decade since 1980. Once centers of wealth and industry, these places are shadows of their former selves. In 1950, 1.8 million people lived in Detroit; in 2013, 700,000 did. Since 1950 Buffalo, New York has lost 55 percent of its population. Cleveland, Ohio has lost 56 percent, and Youngstown, Ohio has lost 61 percent. [...]
  • By George Galster | America prides itself as the land of equal opportunity. Sadly, it is clear that equal opportunity is a cruel sham in a nation whose metropolitan areas’ neighborhoods and schools are increasingly segregated by race and class. Our metropolitan areas are rapidly becoming engines of inequality. Here is what the Trump Administration should know: [...]
  • By Scott Minkoff | When we started the Urban Affairs Forum last year one of our goals was to become an outlet for scholars to offer thoughts about current events based on their years of expertise. Today we are launching our first (of what we expect to be many) Urban Affairs Forum Scholars Series. The topic: What the Trump administration should know about cities. [...]
  • What Affects Our Sense of Security?

    January 19, 2017 // 0 Comments

    By Kimihiro Hino, Masaya Uesugi, and Yasushi Asami | Japan has a lower crime rate (number of recorded crimes per 100,000 people) for homicide and theft than France, Germany, the UK and the US. The theft rate in Japan is less than one-third that of the US, while the homicide rate is around one-sixth. However, the nation’s sense of security with regard to crime remains low. Our recent study showed that crime rates affect residents’ sense of security in their neighborhoods, and that these effects differ by the type of crime and spatial scale. [...]
  • The Politics of Urban Climate Change

    January 15, 2017 // 0 Comments

    By Sara Hughes | Cities are becoming an important focal point for climate change policy: they are responsible for a large portion of energy-related greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, and have shown tremendous leadership in committing to GHG emissions reductions, even as many national governments fail to do so. Indeed, Scientific American recently claimed that, “Climate Change Will be Solved in Cities – Or Not at All” and more than one thousand city leaders attended the recent international climate change negotiations in Paris. But, despite the growth in policy attention to climate change in cities, we have a relatively poor understanding of the political dynamics that underpin urban climate change solutions. [...]

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Urban Affairs Review is a peer-reviewed, bi-monthly journal focused on questions of politics, governance, and public policy specifically as they relate to cities and/or their regions. The Urban Affairs Forum is a space for leading thinkers about urban issues to share their research, ideas, and experiences. Visit us for insights on local and regional politics, urban governance, and public policy that are based in the research findings of our diverse community of scholars and practitioners. You can learn more about the Forum here.

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